Anger Over Fees Charged at Council Owned Gyms

Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre and new Chiswick Pool still billing during outbreak

Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre


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Members of council-owned leisure centres in Hounslow borough have been angered by money still being debited from their accounts by the operator despite the closure of the facilities during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Fusion Lifestyle runs New Chiswick Pool and Fountains Leisure Centre on behalf of the council as well as other sites in the borough. They have decided to charge a reduced monthly fee of £10 during the outbreak. They say on their web site, “There is no need to cancel your membership or direct debit. While the centre is closed we will have automatically transferred all members on our great value package for you to help you keep fit, active and healthy.”

They are offering a range of on-line fitness session including access to ‘Les Mills on Demand’ which they say would normally cost £12.99 a month.

They are also guaranteeing no membership price rise until after next year. Members are getting a pro-rata credit for fees paid up until the end of March.

One pool member said, “I just assumed the monthly charge would stop so it was a bit of a surprise to see the money come out of our account. It might only be a tenner but when your income collapses that starts to matter a lot more.”

Others have pointed out that in not all members would have sufficient internet bandwidth to join the classes or appropriate space in their homes.

Members of the facilities recently launched a petition asking for the council to consider funding improvements after they felt their complaints about standards of maintenance were not being heeded.

Everyone Active, which runs council leisure facilities in neighbouring Ealing, is waiving monthly fees for existing members although is giving them an option to continue paying with half the fees going to the National Emergencies Trust. In addition anyone who continues to pay will automatically be upgraded to Gold membership which gives them a lifetime exemption from fee rises, a month’s free membership, free guest passes every month and access to all the groups clubs nationwide. Members can also choose an online package for £9.99 a month which, like the deal in Hounslow, includes access to Les Mills on Demand and a range of other online fitness classes.

The Hogarth Club in Chiswick, a private members club has frozen all memberships from the start of April and all memberships have been put ‘on freeze’ until reopening. They have launched our new online platforms - "Hogarth LIVE Classes" and "Hogarth On Demand Classes" for members to access from their homes.

Clubs in the Virgin Active group including Chiswick Riverside and the club in Chiswick Business Park have frozen all memberships until the clubs reopen.

Cllr Samia Chaudhary, Cabinet Member for Parks and Leisure Services at Hounslow Council said,
“Hounslow Council understands that all Leisure Club Members have been emailed by Fusion offering them a number of different options. They can gain access to online classes for example and continue with their direct debit at a lower rate (£10); they can freeze their membership for free while the lockdown continues; or they can opt out of the scheme and claim a refund.

“Although this is a Fusion policy decision with their members, the council has ensured that Fusion provides a free of charge freeze to their memberships”.

Gregg Holland, Regional Business Manager for Fusion Lifestyle said, " Fusion is a registered charity; all the money we receive is reinvested back into our facilities, and also funds, and often subsidises, the services that we provide. A significant amount of our members receive discounted or subsidised prices, or specialised programmes and every penny helps to ensure we can reopen our doors when we have the go-ahead.

"Our income relies entirely on the loyalty of our members and the response we have received from our members has been overwhelmingly positive.

"Following the Government’s decision our biggest concern is the wellbeing of our members and offering a freeze option allows access to a variety of benefits which enables members to continue to keep fit physically and mentally at home while on lockdown. Whilst our members were provided this option to stay fit and healthy, we also provided them various options to either freeze their membership for free or cancel their membership free of charge.

"Finally, I would like to state that we feel we have offered fair and transparent membership options throughout this period."

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April 29, 2020

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