Pool pilot to be trialled

Swimming pool bosses say they have listened to customers and have come up with an innovative pilot project for opening hours at Galashiels.

Borders Sport and Leisure Trust is piloting an on-demand pre-book session on Friday mornings (7.15-9am) from this week until December 19, when the results will be reviewed.

The trust hopes the approach will help off-set the reduction in some of the public access hours to the pool, which was introduced last month as part of a regular timetabling review, combined with a wider cost-saving initiative.

Trust chief executive Ewan Jackson told us: “We are constantly looking at ways to provide best service for our customers – work which always has to balance the need of different groups against the resource available. Increasing charges to help cover costs is one way of increasing our available funding but we want to make sure that when the pool is open it is affordable for people to use.

“We know a number of our customers were disappointed at the reduced public access hours at Galashiels Swimming Pool so we hope the introduction of this on-demand pilot will be a way of meeting their requests for access and our financial challenges.”

According to the not-for-profit trust, each swim session undertaken at one of its pools is subsidised by an average of £2.08 and, as the charity is operating on a funding package down 7% on 2007 levels, cost savings are required.

Mr Jackson continued: “Timetables are based on historic usage figures, meaning centres are open when there is the greatest demand. However, it is no longer possible to open all hours of the day on the off-chance that someone will come in to swim. By piloting a pre-book session, the swimming pool can be confident they are going to be open for people who will come to swim. The model will be familiar to many people who currently book exercise classes.”

The trust says overall opening hours at Galashiels have been reduced by six hours a week (from 73.5hrs to 67.5hrs) but with the launch of the pilot this is reduced to four-and-a-quarter hours.

Mr Jackson concluded: “The changes have taken place as part of our regular timetable reviews but we may not have communicated why we have had to do this as well as we could have to our customers.

“We take seriously our responsibility to provide all Borders residents, not just young people, with fair access to leisure facilities and we look forward to seeing the results of this pilot which could provide us with an approach that can be used at other centres.”