Leisure services under scrutiny after Harpenden pool slated by users

Harpenden swimming pool.

Harpenden swimming pool. - Credit: Archant

Concern about the state of Harpenden sports centre and pool has prompted a working group of councillors to initiate a summer/autumn review of progress in carrying out improvements.

A users’ survey of both Westminster Lodge leisure centre and Harpenden sports centre revealed that while respondents were generally happy with the St Albans facility, there were a lot of concerns about the state of the town’s centre and pool, particularly its cleanliness and customer service.

Now the group of district councillors who examined the results of the survey on behalf of a council scrutiny committee have decided to conduct a similar exercise later this year to establish what improvements have been made.

Cllr Anthony Rowlands, who chaired the group, said they had received over 500 responses from local residents to the survey carried out in February.

Most people were delighted with the new Westminster Lodge Centre although some issues had been raised including provision for young people, how peak time congestion was handled by centre operators, the quality of cafeteria refreshments and parking and tidiness around the site.

But the situation was nowhere near as satisfactory at Harpenden Sports Centre. Cllr Rowlands said that in contrast to Westminster Lodge, users had slated both the town’s centre and pool.

He went on: “Over 60 per cent of respondents said they were very dissatisfied with cleanliness at the pool and over 40 per cent with the customer service provided by staff.

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“By some long way these were the most damning survey reactions to the council-run services I have ever read.”

Among the improvements the council has agreed with operators 1Life is the investment of £50,000 in the refurbishment of the health suite at the Harpenden pool including the sauna, steam room and saunarium. The operating company has also reviewed arrangments for cleaning and staff training at the centre as a whole.