Glasgow Life has come under fire after removing a health suite at a sports venue, amid fears more facilities could close.
The swimming pool and health suite at Glasgow Club Scotstoun had been earmarked for a refurbishment in 2019.
While the pool reopened late last month after the refit, the health suite, which included a steam room and sauna, has shut down.
Now, resident Gavin Owen has started a petition to reinstate the facility, arguing that users’ well-being would be at risk of declining due to the loss of the “important” amenity.
It comes after the Glasgow Times launched its Save Our Venues campaign, calling on Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life to reopen community facilities that are still closed after Covid lockdowns.
“This isn’t fair,” said Gavin.
“The health suite is part of people’s physical and mental health, people use it to relax and socialise.
“Before they shut it, it was always busy, there were always groups of people in there, little family networks, a lot of people across Glasgow relied on such an important facility.
“I’m a middle-aged man and I’m suffering, so there’s going to be other people out there that are also suffering.”
The 48-year-old sport enthusiast, who regularly used the facility, said he first noticed something was off when similar private amenities across the city started reopening as restrictions lifted.
He said residents were told the wet area was going to be redesigned and developed before the pandemic hit.
However, as life started to go back to normal and work resumed on the pool, there were no updates on the health suite.
As the pool reopened, it emerged the health suite space would be repurposed into more toilets and changing rooms.
Bus driver Gavin now fears more health suits across the city might close, as Glasgow Life is currently carrying out a review of the service.
“I’m quite aggrieved at how Glasgow Life just suddenly changed all their plans since the pandemic,” added Gavin.
“As things started to reopen, they were really slow and very lacking information regarding the health suite, not just at Scotstoun, but across the board.
“They used to send out email updates about Covid and there was nothing about health suites.
“I had an inkling something would happen and it seems like they decided to possibly closed them all down now.
“Scotstoun health suite is being ripped away with no public consultation. It’s frustrating, it’s annoying, it’s not fair, and there’s not been any proper clarification.”
Glasgow Life, which runs the facility, said it carried out a customer survey when the refurbishment was first announced in 2019, to identify the most used areas at the venue.
However, campaign group Glasgow Against Closure said this would not be reliable and called for a “reform” of the council’s arms length organisation.
Campaigner Colin McGeoch said: “Glasgow Life have said they have made decisions about Scotstoun leisure centre facilities based on feedback from users which was within a small survey not widely advertised.
“This is not community engagement by any reasonable standard such as defined in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.
“Decisions are being taken by unelected Glasgow Life employees, which directly affect services provided to communities, which is fundamentally wrong.
“Glasgow Against Closures has be calling for fundamental reform of Glasgow Life and for culture and leisure services to be taken back within Glasgow City Council.”
Glasgow Life’s website reports the charity is currently reviewing its 10 health suites to identify any repairs and maintenance work, “with our limited budget and staffing resources”.
Residents from across the city commented on a post on Gavin’s petition to express their concerns for their local health suite.
One wrote: “We have been told the health suite is not planned to reopen at Bellahouston either.
“We’ve already basically lost the flume and outdoor pool there as they don’t put on staff to man them. Shameful.”
A second commented: “The spa at Emirates shows no sign of opening either.
“Holyrood remains shut also. It’s time this mob were called into question.”
A Glasgow Life spokesperson said the Scotstoun upgrade was re-evaluated after the results of the customer survey.
They added: “By carrying out this work within Scotstoun pool, we have created a facility which delivers the services we know our users want, and makes better use of Glasgow Life’s budget.
“We are aware some users are disappointed these facilities have not reopened, however Glasgow Life has a duty to the people of Glasgow to offer services and facilities which offer clear benefits and positive impacts.”
The organisation added the operation of health suites would be expensive and the facilities were running at a loss even before 2020, with energy costs alone amounting to £120,000.
A reduction in the annual budget and the financial implications of the pandemic would have put strain on the services which Glasgow Life can deliver, and reopening the health suites at this time would put even more financial pressure on the organisation.
Glasgow Life said any when Glasgow Club memberships were reinstated in 2020, members were offered the opportunity to reactivate their membership if they felt the activities available at the time offered them good value for money.
The services available were made clear to existing members, and continue to be displayed clearly on our website for any new members.
The month-to-month no contract price of memberships has also been reduced from £34 to £27, meaning all contractual obligations have been removed for a cheaper monthly cost.
A spokesperson added: “If users feel their membership doesn’t offer them best value, or they have a change of circumstances, then they can cancel anytime with no fees.”
You can sign Gavin’s petition to reinstated the Scotstoun health suite here.