Your Life Centre works questions answered

Many people will have questions following the announcement about the temporary closure of the Plymouth Life Centre to enable urgent works to be carried out.

Here we provide the answers and further information:

 

What exactly are the defects?

There are some internal waterproofing issues within the pool hall and changing facilities, which have caused leaks throughout the building during the lifetime of the centre.

 

When did they come to light?

There have been ongoing challenges since the Life Centre first opened in 2012, with various maintenance and rectification works carried out. The shutdown due to COVID-19 allowed for a more thorough inspection of the facility, which has shown that more extensive and intrusive works are needed to prevent these issues from escalating.

 

How did this happen – whose fault is it?

What began as relatively minor leaks have steadily got worse as part of the internal waterproofing issues and these will be put right by the building contractor.

 

What repairs need to be carried out?

The pool surround and changing areas need to be stripped right back to the base concrete, then relaid, with new waterproof layers installed. Consequential damage to walls, ceilings, fixtures and fittings, metalwork, plant and electrics will also need to be repaired.

 

Why does the whole building need to be closed?

Work will be taking place in nearly all areas of the building, either directly or indirectly and most of it will be intrusive and noisy. It would not be safe or practical to allow people to use the building while these works are carried out. To try to keep the building open during works would add significant time and cost.

 

Who is paying for the work?

The main works will be paid for by the contractor. However, the Council will also be taking the opportunity to invest in additional improvements in response to the Government’s COVID-19 guidance and to extend the life of the facility.

 

Why was the work not started during lockdown?

The shutdown allowed for more thorough inspections into these ongoing issues to be carried out. Some preliminary work was undertaken during lockdown and this period has also allowed some of the wet areas of the building to dry out, which will shorten the length of time needed for the works. We are doing all we can to get these essential works done in the shortest possible timeframe.

 

Why didn’t you announce the works sooner?

This was a big decision and we have been highly conscious of the impact it will have on Life Centre users. Ideally we would have been able to give more notice. With works of this scale there was a lot to negotiate and organise. We had not completed this when the Government announced, with little notice, that leisure centres were able to open.

We’ve had to work very hard to get things in place to make sure these essential works can take place now, rather than letting the situation deteriorate further. It didn’t make any sense to increase the disruption to centre users and staff by opening the Life Centre for a short period and then having to close it again.

There is never a good time to do this and it can’t be done without causing disruption but doing this essential work now is preferable to opening the centre up only to have to shut it down again.

 

How will Plymouth maintain public health and fitness without this facility? What alternatives will be available?

Delaying the works would only have added further disruption to these sports and activities further down the line. We are working with Everyone Active and our partners across the city to see how we can accommodate as many of these different sports and activities elsewhere during the closure period. This includes plans by Everyone Active to extend facilities across their Plympton and Brickfields sites during the works. There are already lots of positive discussions taking place and we hope to provide an update on this by 31 July.

 

Why did Everyone Active not let members know sooner?

Everyone Active received confirmation that the Life Centre would remain closed on Wednesday 23 July. Members were informed on Thursday 24 July.

 

Why did Everyone Active carry on taking membership fees?

All memberships have been frozen during the COVID-19 lockdown. No money has been taken from members, except for a small number who chose to either continue paying their membership with 50 per cent donated to NHS charities, or to pay £9.99 per month for online classes and workouts.

Some members may have chosen to renew their annual membership during the lockdown. These memberships will be extended to take the closure into account.

 

Will other arrangements be made for members?

Everyone Active are extending the gym at Brickfields Sports Centre using the fitness equipment from the Life Centre to accommodate more people. There will also be additional classes available at Brickfields. The pool and gym at Plympton Swimming Pool will also be available for use. Everyone Active will charge a reduced rate of £15 per month for Life Centre members using these facilities.

 

Can members get their money back/freeze their membership/cancel their membership?

All memberships are non-contract and can be cancelled at any time.

Members who pay monthly will be given the option of either continuing their membership at the reduced rate of £15 a month to use the facilities at Brickfields Sports Centre and Plympton Swimming Pool or continuing to freeze their membership (with no money being collected).

Members who pay an upfront lump sum for a year have had their membership extended during lockdown. We hope these members will stay with us and use Brickfields and Plympton while the works are being carried out, with the offer of a further extension. Customers who decide to cancel their membership will be offered a refund for the time they haven’t been able to use.

 

What’s going to happen to the elite athletes who train there?

We and Everyone Active are working with the relevant sports governing bodies to look at alternative arrangements for athletes who use the facilities and further details will be available shortly.

 

Will the closure affect any major sporting fixtures or events?

Major sporting events have already been and continue to be impacted by COVID-19 and we have no major events planned during the works period.  We look forward to hosting world-class events at the Plymouth Life Centre again once the works are completed.

 

Will this affect the election count in May 2021?

No, the centre is scheduled to reopen in April 2021.

 

How and when were staff told?

Everyone Active emailed staff on Thursday 23 July.

 

How many staff are affected?

Around 300, most of whom are part-time.

 

Are the staff furloughed?

Yes, centre staff are on furlough.

 

What will happen to the staff?

We are working with our partners to create as many opportunities for any staff impacted so that we retain the workforce when we reopen in April.