The Triangle at Burgess Hill: concern and frustration with reduced opening hours and the new booking system

Colin Elliott, 73, of Wallis Way, said the center has reduced hours for facilities like the pool and health suite, but members like him are still paying the same fees.

He said members initially accepted the need to reduce hours when the center reopens in the summer of 2021 due to the severity of the pandemic and government rules.

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He said a lot of people didn’t hesitate to pay the full fee at the time because they felt like they were helping the Triangle.

Colin Elliott from Burgess Hill is a member of Triangle who is frustrated with the leisure centre’s reduced opening hours. Photo: Steve Robards, SR2202091.

“But when things should have been back to normal, they decided to cut times, especially in the health suite, by about 20% from what they were before,” Colin said.

Colin, who is retired from being a buildings manager at BT, said The Triangle made the changes around October last year and said he did not understand why.

He said he pays for full membership, which gives him access to everything.

Mid Sussex Council Leader Jonathan Ash-Edwards. Photo: Steve Robards, SR2107053.

He regularly takes his granddaughter to swimming club sessions and used to go to the health suite while she was there.

“I can’t do this anymore because it’s closing early,” Colin said, adding that the recreation center hasn’t just cut its hours.

In October and November last year, Colin wrote to Mid Sussex District Council to say that Places Leisure (part of Places for People) had cut or removed ‘more than a dozen facilities and services for members” since obtaining the Triangle management contract.

His examples included: a TV area for retired limbs, a smaller steam room, sauna capacity reduced by 33% during refurbishment, the health suite body dryer removed and smaller lockers in the health suite. He also worried that Covid was being used as an excuse to implement cuts.

The Triangle Leisure Center in Burgess Hill. Photo: Steve Robards, SR1620859.

Colin said he was particularly concerned that these reductions would deter people from going to the Triangle.

“In my opinion, and in the opinion of other people, Places Leisure does nothing at all to increase hours or encourage more people to go,” he said.

Colin also expressed his frustration with the Triangle’s new online reservation system where visitors and members must reserve a timeslot in advance to use the facilities.

It’s now difficult for non-members to get a time that works for them, Colin said, because they can only book a week in advance while members can book two weeks in advance.

“Everything is reserved by members,” he said, adding that people without an internet connection could be left out.

“I think it’s very bad that the general public can’t enter a public building whenever they want,” he said.

Colin also feels that changes are not being made with sufficient notice and information is not being shared effectively enough.

If fewer people visit the Triangle, Colin fears Mid Sussex District Council will have to continue to subsidize the leisure centre, which would lead to higher council tax.

In response to Colin’s concerns, Jonathan Ash-Edwards, leader of Mid Sussex District Council, said: ‘We know how important leisure centers are to the local community and that is why we have provided substantial financial support so they can stay open during these difficult times. time.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has significantly reduced the number of people using our leisure centers but the cost of running the centers remains high,” he said.

“As a result, hours of operation at some facilities have been reduced to help minimize costs and reduce the need for council subsidy.”

Mr Ash-Edwards said people were gradually returning to leisure centres, adding that attendance was now around three quarters of that recorded before Covid hit the UK.

“Opening hours are being extended as demand increases and the aim is to return to pre-covid opening hours as soon as possible,” he said.

Mr Ash-Edwards said the booking system had been introduced “in direct response to customer feedback” and was helping leisure centers manage demand and keep users “Covid safe”.

“It removed the need to queue, eased the pressure on parking, and dramatically improved the customer experience,” he said.

He also praised Places Leisure, saying they have “constantly sought to improve the facilities offered to the local community” since taking over management of the area’s leisure centres.

“At the Triangle in particular, huge investments have been made to modernize the gym, redesign the exercise studios, create a new café area, add new play equipment to the leisure pool, relay the outdoor sports fields and providing new facilities like the clip ‘n’ climbing wall and the hugely popular padel court,” he said.

“It’s not easy running a leisure center during a pandemic, but the staff at Places Leisure have done an amazing job of providing sport and leisure activities to the community in a Covid safe environment,” he said. -he adds.

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