By Nathan Rexter
Strathclyde Sport has responded to students’ concerns regarding the facility’s recent pool closure.
Complaints and demands for refunds were shared widely on social media by Strathclyde Sport members, many of which are part of the University, as it was revealed the centre’s swimming pool, would be closed from Monday, May 10th.
The temporary closure, described on the Strathclyde Sport’s website as being for “essential repairs”, occurred not long after the facility was reopened on April 26th following a nationwide lockdown. The timing of the closure has come under criticism from members of Strathclyde Sport, one of whom claims it occurred with “little public warning”. Strathclyde Sport’s Twitter account announced the pool’s closure on May 7th.
“The inconvenience caused by the ‘essential’ closure may well be ‘outwith their control’, but what isn’t out of their control is the ability to adequately compensate pool-using members for said inconvenience,” said Strathclyde student Alex Manley. He added: “Whilst many will be able to adapt their regime and engage in different activities aside from swimming, the same cannot be said for many others who now find themselves sidelined by the pool’s closure.”
Taking to Strathfess—a Facebook forum which allows students to post anonymous confessions and complaints—some students expressed their frustrations at the closure, while others described problems obtaining refunds, due to Strath Sport’s non-refundable policy for annual or semester long memberships.
“My blood is boiling”, one Strathfess contributor said. “Strathclyde Sport pool users paid their membership on the basis of being able to use the pool”. The anonymous Strathclyde Sport member went on to wish that Strathclyde Sport reimburse their “loyal members”. Another contributor said, “it’s unfair on student members”, before asking “what exactly are we paying for?”
Strathclyde Sport, in response to an email from this publication, confirmed that the pool’s closure is due to “reasons totally out with our control”, also stating that memberships are “inclusive of the whole facility and we don’t offer a swim only membership.”
In reply to emails from members of the facility, Strathclyde Sport quoted section 1.2 of their terms and conditions which states, “Access to facilities may be restricted at given times in order to carry out cleaning, repairs, alterations or improvements, for staff training, large events and meetings, during gym classes and bookings for maintenance or security work or for reasons that are beyond Strathclyde Sport control.” Within the same email, they commiserated with members about the pool’s closure.
Eilidh Sneddon, Strath Union’s Vice President Sport, responded to the concerns voiced by students. She said: “I completely understand these complaints as I myself am excited to get back in the pool and know after this long staff and students are excited to get back.
“As VP sport, I have been working closely with Strathclyde Sport representing the views of students. And, although it is never good to have to close a facility, the works are necessary to avoid further disruption in the academic year, which would be detrimental to so much activity. I am fully understanding of the situation and know that due to procurement issues relating to COVID-19 the works could not be completed during the building closure.”
Neil Brown, Strath Sport’s Head of Sport, described the need to close the pool as “a pain” and that Strath Sport is “with the students on this.” According to Brown, the pool was closed due to an outstanding issue which could not be fixed during the January to April lockdown because of complications due to COVID-19. Brown further indicated that Strathclyde Sport decided to fix the issue now while the “campus is quiet.”
Both Brown and Sneddon confirmed that a partial reimbursement would occur for this year’s memberships affected by the three-week lockdown occurring before Christmas and the four-month lockdown from January to April. The amount refunded will be based on how many weeks the facilities have been open out of the year, but an exact figure has yet not been set.
According to Brown, an email will be sent out to Strathclyde Sport members in the next 15 – 20 days, directing them on how to claim their partial refund of around £50-£60.