Leisure facilities will return

A temporary gym and fitness suite with thirty fitness stations is rising from the flood water of our flagship sports centre, just five weeks after loss adjustors described the damage as catastrophic.

Ou customers had to evacuate leisure@cheltenham on Friday 20 July as flood water began pouring from the nearby lake into the centre. Fire services had to close off the immediate area because of the threat of chemical explosion as gas tanks. At its highest, the torrent of water reached levels of five feet across the leisure centre’s ground floor. After a 24-hour operation to pump out water, fire crews made the building safe for council staff to begin assessing the damage.

Sonia Phillips, our assistant director for health and wellbeing said:

Everywhere was coated in a thick layer of silt, with computers, furniture and office equipment strewn across ground floor offices. All the sprung wooden floors on the site, including the sports hall and squash courts, were bowed and distorted into a permanent wave, the childrens creche was washed away and the pools were full of dark, muddy water.

Loss adjustors from Zurich Insurance who arrived on the scene the following day described ‘catastrophic damage’ and said the sports centre was one of the worst-hit facilities they had seen in the region.

Sonia Phillips is focusing on the future:

Leisure@cheltenham attracts an annual footfall of around 650,000 customers so setting up temporary sports and leisure facilities – and doing it quickly – is a huge challenge. At the same time, we are overseeing a multi-million pound refurbishment programme to bring the leisure centre back into operation. Our new temporary building is now being fitted out with thirty fitness stations, full shower and changing facilities and disability access, and we hope to be welcoming back customers at the end of September. We are also talking to other local organisations to see what more we can do for our customers.

Councillor Anne Regan, cabinet member for safer and stronger communities said:

I would like to thank all those who have expressed their support to the centre during recent weeks and give my assurance that we are doing everything we can to minimise the period of disruption that the closure has caused. leisure@cheltenham serves more than 111,000 residents so I am pleased that we will shortly have facilities for people to use.

Jim Schiro, chief executive of Zurich Global, saw the damage first-hand when he visited leisure@cheltenham earlier this month to meet Cheltenham Borough Council’s chief executive Andrew North and assistant director Sonia Phillips.


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August 2007
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