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Obesity fears as pools in Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay stay shut

There are fears residents will struggle to keep fit as no date has yet been set for the reopening of the district’s council-owned swimming pools.

While leisure centres across the country were allowed to open their doors again on Saturday, people have been left wondering why facilities in Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay are still out of action.

The Herons Leisure Centre swimming pool is still shut. Picture: Chris Davey
The Herons Leisure Centre swimming pool is still shut. Picture: Chris Davey

Active Life - which manages sites including the Kingsmead Leisure Centre, Herons Leisure Centre and Whitstable Swimming Pool and Sports Centre on behalf of the local authority - says it is looking at options for a “phased return” of services.

It says the gym and group exercise classes at Kingsmead will open on Monday, followed by group exercise at The Bay Sports Arena and Whitstable Sports Centre on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the gym and group exercise classes at Herons Leisure Centre will resume on Monday, August 10.

But there is still no reopening date for swimming pools and other services run by Active Life.

A spokesman said: “We are reviewing our plans for the remaining facilities and centres and will open these when they are safe and viable to do so.”

The Whitstable Swimming Pool is yet to reopen. Picture: Chris Davey
The Whitstable Swimming Pool is yet to reopen. Picture: Chris Davey

The struggling charity says the coronavirus pandemic has had a “huge impact” on the leisure sector and footfall is expected to be “significantly down” over the next year.

A post on its website says: “We know your leisure facilities are really important for your health and wellbeing and we want them open again as soon as possible, so we hope that you will bear with us during this time.

“We are working with Canterbury City Council to look at the options for a phased return of leisure centre provision.”

The charity has backed a campaign urging the government to commit to £800 million in relief funding to support the recovery of the public leisure sector.

But city councillors are calling for centres to reopen as a priority - particularly in light of the government’s anti-obesity drive.

The pool at Kingsmead Leisure Centre, Canterbury, will stay shut. Picture: Andy Jones
The pool at Kingsmead Leisure Centre, Canterbury, will stay shut. Picture: Andy Jones

Northgate councillor Jean Butcher (Lab) says they should welcome customers back as soon as possible to give them the chance to improve their health.

“I believe they should open because people need to lose weight and get fit,” she said. “If we haven’t got the facilities to do that, it’s not going to look good.”

Gorrell councillor Chris Cornell (Lab) says although Active Life is an independent charity, it has a responsibility to ensure local people have access to its facilities.

Residents have contacted him with concerns their children will not be able to visit Whitstable Swimming Pool this summer.

“In the week that the government is announcing measures to tackle obesity it is incredibly disappointing to see that our local leisure centres aren’t reopening,” he said.

“People are right to demand answers.”

But Herne Bay councillor Andrew Cook (Con) says that while he hopes the centres reopen as soon as possible, it has to be done “safely and economically”.

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

Read more: All the latest news from Whitstable

Read more: All the latest news from Herne Bay


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