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Leisure centres ready for restricted reopening, with free use for gym members, as library services set to expand

Published: Friday, 17th July 2020

Members of council-run leisure centres will soon be able to use gyms at a number of sites, as part of a phased reopening of services in line with national health guidelines.

Facilities at some Stoke-on-Trent City Council-run venues will open again from Monday 27 July. It will mean that gyms at Fenton Manor Sports Complex, Dimensions Leisure Centre and The Wallace Centre Sport and Education Centre will be open for existing health members only.

A selection of fitness classes – aerobic, relaxation and indoor cycle sessions – will be available to existing health club members from Monday 3 August.

Due to the restrictions, all memberships and subscriptions have been frozen since March. Gym members will get free use of facilities throughout August. Membership fees will be capped at £10 for September, with a view to packages returning to normal after full services resume.

During August, all members will have ‘global’ access to facilities available at Fenton Manor, Dimensions Leisure Centre and The Wallace Centre. Gym users are asked to please ensure that they bring their membership card with them. There will be members of staff to greet visitors and a queueing system will be in place.

A range of safety measures will be in place to support visitors, including one-way systems, screens in reception, guidelines for customers and increased cleaning. Gym users will also be given materials to clean their workstations and equipment after they use them. There will also be restrictions on the number of pieces of equipment available to help ensure social distancing measures are followed.

Gym users are advised that all activities must be pre-booked via the ActiveStoke app, via the online booking portal at stoke.gov.uk/leisure, or by calling the leisure centres.

Also from August 3, clubs affiliated to their national governing body, for example the Football Association, will be able to book artificial sports pitches at Dimensions and Northwood Stadium.

The authority is also working through recently-published Swim England guidance and expects to be able offer lane swimming sessions at Fenton Manor from August 3, subject to meeting the necessary safety measures. Educational and private swimming lessons are expected to start in September.

Sport and leisure teams are also analysing specific guidance from national governing bodies to ensure other indoor facilities and activities can open in a safe and controlled way. This includes facilities and activities at New Horizons and Stoke-on-Trent Gymnastics Centre, sports halls, club and coaching sessions, the health spa at Fenton Manor, cafés, and events or parties.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “It is such good news that we can begin to reopen leisure services, as we continue our recovery from the coronavirus lockdown. This will be done in a phased and controlled way, in line with national guidance.

“We can’t wait to welcome gym users back to our centres, and our teams have been working incredibly hard to ensure every safety measure and precaution is in place to look after the health and wellbeing of all visitors and staff.

“This is the beginning of the reopening of these services and as such, we’re really pleased to be able to be able to offer our gym facilities free of charge for existing members during August. We are also capping membership fees to a low price throughout September.”

Leisure centres temporarily closed on 28 March, as part of national coronavirus lockdown measures. Many staff have been redeployed to other roles to help keep vital services running through the pandemic. Fenton Manor Leisure Centre has been used as a base for the #StokeonTrentTogether campaign, which has provided support to thousands of vulnerable people. A number of virtual workout classes have run during the lockdown on the social media channels of the leisure centres, and have attracted thousands of participants.

Meanwhile, council library services are set to expand from Monday (20 July). The authority introduced click, call and collect services for customers to access books at Longton and Tunstall libraries, in response to the coronavirus while library buildings have been temporarily closed. Between 6-12 July, a total of 1,223 books and talking books were issued through the service.

Based on this success and demand, click, call and collect services will be available from City Central Library in the city centre and Meir Library from Monday (20 July). Customers will be able to order and collect books from Bentilee Library from Monday 27 July.

Councillor Brown said: “We have had such a huge response from library users accessing more than 1,200 books since we started to operate click, call and collect. It is fantastic to see services being so well used, and we have worked to extend this service to other libraries across the city to give more library users more choice.”

All items returned to Stoke-on-Trent Libraries will be quarantined for at least 72 hours before being put back on the shelves or issued to another borrower.

To find out more about click, call and collect visit: www.stoke.gov.uk/clickcallcollect.

Meanwhile children in Stoke-on-Trent are being encouraged to ‘get silly’ this summer during a reading challenge which aims to increase their love of books.

The Silly Squad Summer Reading Challenge 2020, produced by The Reading Agency, asks four to 11-year-olds to read any six books, or more, over the school holidays.

Stoke-on-Trent Libraries is joining in the annual project and this year’s theme will be a celebration of funny books, happiness and laughter.

Children who take part in the challenge online – at www.sillysquad.org.uk – will find out more about the Silly Squad characters and their amazing house, as well as a mysterious villain who wants to spoil the fun. Youngsters can then unlock digital content, activities and videos as rewards for their reading.

Tomorrow, Saturday July 11, Stoke-on-Trent Libraries will also begin to launch its local activities for the Summer Reading Challenge.

This includes a free online event with storyteller John Kirk, who will perform Roald Dahl’s The Twits. The live event, available through a video call, is on Wednesday, July 22 at 11am. Tickets will be available to library members and must be booked in advance by emailing central.library@stoke.gov.uk.

The authority is also reminding residents of national guidance which will mean wearing face masks in shops and supermarkets is compulsory from Friday 24 July. The changes will mean that shop owners can refuse entry if face masks are not worn, and enforcement will be done by the police who can issue fines of up to £100.

Councillor Brown said: “We are reminding all residents of these changes and to follow the guidance for the greater good of the city, to stop the spread of the virus.

“It is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off. You can make face coverings at home – the key thing is they should cover the mouth and nose.

“Face coverings do not replace social distancing. If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, you must isolate – wearing a mask does not change this.”

For more information and advice on coronavirus (Covid-19) please visit Public Health England:

https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ and the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated.

For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.

-Ends-

For all media enquiries only please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232671.

www.stoke.gov.uk/news

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