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Staffordshire schools swimming service faces the axe

By Jordan Reynolds | Staffordshire | Coronavirus | Published:

A service which works with hundreds of Staffordshire schools teaching pupils to swim is set to be axed, with 26 jobs at risk.

Entrust Swimming Service will be decommissioned this summer, meaning the 200 schools it works with across the county will have to find new swimming teachers before September if the withdrawal goes ahead.

The service said the decision was due to Covid-19 closing swimming pools and the decline in usage.

A Entrust spokesman said: “We are always reviewing our services and operations to ensure we support our clients and their customers in the best possible way. 

“Covid-19 continues to have a substantial impact on our operations. With swimming pools remaining closed, coupled with the ongoing decline in its usage, we have made the difficult decision to accelerate our plans to decommission our Entrust Swimming Service.

“We have entered a consultation process with employees in the business and we are supporting and working closely with colleagues affected by this decision. We will also engage with affected school customers to help them find alternative providers.”

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It comes as leisure centres across Staffordshire are hoping to reopen soon – but issues still remain with the reopening of the pool at Rugeley.

Rugeley and Chase leisure centres had to close in March due to the lockdown measures announced by the Government to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Earlier in the month, while they were still able to open, measures had been introduced to keep staff and customers safe including more regular cleaning and keeping gym users at least two machines away from one another. The number of people able to attend classes was also reduced, while sessions for older customers were postponed.

Changes

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Now the Rugeley and Cannock centres are looking ahead to how to reopen safely – and customers can expect to see a number of changes at both sites. There will be one-way systems to help maintain social distancing, enhanced cleaning regimes, cashless payments and contactless door and turnstile entries to gyms using keys and wristbands.

But issues remain with the reopening of Rugeley Leisure Centre’s swimming pool, as problems with tiling and a potential water leak were identified during lockdown.

Inspiring healthy lifestyles (Ihg), who manage the district’s leisure facilities on behalf of Cannock Chase Council, have commissioned two professional surveys to identify the issues.

Councillor Christine Mitchell, portfolio leader for culture and sport, said: “The issues which have arisen with the swimming pool are a massive blow to Inspiring healthy lifestyles.

“Initial indications are that repair works are going to be costly and time consuming, which is likely to mean that the swimming pool will not be open when Government restrictions on swimming are lifted. I would like to reassure residents and customers that Ihl are doing everything in their power to identify the problem and a solution as quickly as possible.”

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star.

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