Leisure centre opens – and charges locals £44 per month

Olympic legacy? Not at the Waddon Leisure Centre, opened yesterday by Croydon Council inviting a Paralympic champion from… Sutton.

The architetcts' drawing of the Waddon Leisure Centre doesn't do its hideousness full credit

The architects’ drawing of the Waddon Leisure Centre doesn’t do its hideousness full credit

The public facility – built at a cost of £15million, or one-tenth of the price we are paying for the Council HQ being finished just up the road – will surely soon establish itself as one of the borough’s ugliest buildings.

Was the architect “tired and emotional”, and perhaps lying on their side when they determined the lettering down the Five Ways building’s front wall?

One ward councillor, presumably desperate for votes to keep her cosy five-figure sinecure after the local elections next year, has posted a video of residents’ reactions to the shiny facilities on her platitudinous website. It’s not known whether the councillor will herself trek all the way from her Addiscombe home to mix with the ordinary people of Waddon at the leisure centre now it is open.

“It’s lovely and clean,” one elderly local says over the pulsing back-beat music in the video, apparently admiring the basketball courts. It might be a bit of a let-down if the place was dirty and dog-eared even before its official opening. Her husband got interviewed as well for the website. He thought it was lovely, too.

Neither of them, nor anyone else in the video, was asked whether they intended to fork out £11 per week to use the “lovely” facilities that their Council Tax had paid to build. Nor was it stated that a private gym and pool just down the road is offering cheaper memberships.

Any locals wanting to use Waddon Leisure Centre will have to fork out £44 per month to use the gym, 25-metre pool or sports hall.

That means any budding sports stars, or even the average resident looking to follow a healthy fitness regime, has to find more than a fiver a time if they use Waddon on average twice a week. That’s a total of nearly £600 per year – on top of the Council Tax that may locals will already have paid, and which provides the funding for the facility.

The public-funded public facility is not even the cheapest sports centre in the area: less than half a mile away up Stafford Road at the Virgin-owned private “Surrey Health and Racquet Club”, what used to be called Esporta, teenagers can get monthly membership for just £35.

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6 Responses to Leisure centre opens – and charges locals £44 per month

  1. Comparing the Virgin teenagers rate of £35 with the Fusion adult rate is a bit unfair. The Virgin adult rate is £79 and requires a 12 month contact, which makes Waddon’s £44 per month with no contract very good in comparison.

    Also, if the only complaint on the new facilities you can find is the orientation of the lettering on the outside, then I think they’ve done OK.

    It’s a shame you couldn’t manage a positive article on what’s a very welcome new sports facility in the area though.

    • You miss the point entirely, Neil.

      £44 for a council-run (albeit through Fusion) facility is a helluva lot for local kids, OAPs and even hard-working “strivers” to find. It runs the risk of pricing people out of using what ought to be the hub of a local community (though the community hall which Waddon residents have asked for remains undelivered). And an under-used sports centre ends up being a very expensive mistake – for us. Anyone mention the Water Palace?

      That Esporta is able to offer a cheaper rate for teenagers is offered as an example of what can indeed be done with even a tad of marketing imagination. But then that’s far too much to expect of our council.

      The building is utterly ugly. Not that anyone will pause for very long at Fiveways to “admire” it.

      And as far as a “new” sports facility is concerned: the council said that it was to have opened by 2010. Better late than never, maybe, but hardly a triumph of delivery through our wonderful CCURV scheme.

      And it seems very likely – as the council outlined a couple of years ago – that after opening Waddon, Purley Pool and its (more cramped) gym will soon close.

      Positive? Yes, we are absolutely positive that £44 is far too expensive a monthly charge.

      • I suggest you re-read the price list.

        Concessions are £30 per month peak, £25 off-peak. Much less than the £44 headline figure you’re quoting for “Kids, OAPs and strivers”. Kids get free swimming. OAPs reduced rates.

        Personally I don’t see any “teenagers” (in reality, only 16 and 17 year olds who qualify for the reduced Virgin rate) in my local pool in the mornings. Too busy having a lie in probably.

        So that leaves us hard working strivers. Perhaps because it’s council-run (via Fusion) you think our fellow tax-payers should subsidise membership fees to keep them low and run the centre at a loss?

        You are always quick to criticise but never suggest any sensible and viable alternatives.

        Whilst I do use Purley Pool, and it’s closure will be an inconvenience, it’s a horrible, smelly place that’s long past it’s use by date.

        • It’s a simple matter of economics Neil: an unused (or underused) public facility charging £44 per month that no one pays realises… £0. A better used facility that charges a lesser amount but attracts many more people is financially more viable, and also offers all sorts of side benefits in terms of the physical and mental health of the users.

          That was the lesson of the Water Palace – constructed at great cost and vastly underused.

          And as for the public subsidy, the people of Croydon have already subsidised the bottom line of Laing’s in the delivery of this project under the secretive CCURV scheme. Having made that public investment with our money, it is important to get full value from the facility by ensuring it is used by as many people as often as possible.

          Purley Pool a bit smelly for you, Neil? Be interested in what you think of Waddon in, say, nine months’ time.

  2. Has anybody considered that people need to pay for transport to get there?

    The local, vacuous, female councillor was keen to tell the full council that the centre offered facilities for the disabled. Perhaps she has never heard of benefit cuts: £44 plus fares will put the facility out of the reach of many.

    Perhaps that is what the few want.

  3. I’ve been; I’ve seen; and I’ve had a swim.

    At last, Croydon has a pool on a par with the national award-winning Spa in neighbouring Beckenham.

    The Waddon building is as ugly as everything else on Purley Way or the rest of Croydon’s leisure centres, come to that.

    But the interior is fantastic, with modern, single-cubicle changing facilities, good hot showers and some thoughtful additions for those with mobility problems, including shallow-step access to the pool and a hoist.

    Having reached the magic age of 60 I am entitled to swim free-of-charge and I can use the gym, should I wish, for £3.05 a session. I don’t need to be a member to benefit from those prices.

    Were I somewhat younger, a non-member adult swim would cost me £3.80 (or £1.35 if I were unfortunate enough to be sick or unemployed) and a gym session £6.15

    I’ve checked the Fusion website and all the charges at Waddon are precisely the same as those at all Croydon’s other leisure centres: New Addington, Purley, South Norwood and Thornton Heath.

    I’m very happy with the new Waddon centre. I expect to use it regularly and I hope Croydon Council can be persuaded to bring all the others up to the same standard.

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