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‘Melksham has been let down by loss of leisure facilities’

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Residents and councillors speak out as another gym closes.

MELKSHAM residents have said that they feel ‘let-down’ by the lack of leisure services in the town, following the recent closure of another gym.

In less than two years, Melksham has lost Christie Miller Sports Centre, which was closed by Wiltshire Council in 2018; and women’s gym Curves, which closed last month after a hoped-for sale of the business fell through.

Former members of the centres have said that alternative options in the town are limited, and that the town’s main fitness centre, Melksham Blue Pool (which includes a gym), is too small to cope with the increase in the number of users – especially as more people are moving into the town. 

They have also expressed frustration at the slow release of information from Wiltshire Council about the progress of the campus, which is expected to be opened on the Melksham House site in 2021.

Local councillors have also agreed that Melksham should feel let-down by the loss of facilities in the town and that until the campus is ready, the town is currently ‘underprovided for’.

A former member of Curves told Melksham News, “The closure of Curves is a great shame – it was perfect for women of a certain age. There’s nothing in the town that is women only – our closest alternative is in Trowbridge. Many of us can’t get there, or it would take too much time out of the day to get there, so people are going to stop exercising.

“We could go to Blue Pool – and they do offer classes for beginners – but the gym is not ideal, it is very small and you have to wait for equipment to become free. We need more options in the town.”

Another former Curves member added, “It might be better if the campus was ready – but we are still waiting for that, and there’s no real news about when it will be finished. Meanwhile, generations are on hold as they wait for new leisure facilities.”

One former member of Christie Miller, who now uses Melksham Blue Pool said, “The gym has got increasingly busy – in January there were times when every single piece of equipment was being used – I saw a couple of people arrive at the gym and leave soon after in frustration!

“I thought this might be down to the usual ‘New Year’s rush’ with people joining after Christmas, but that’s usually died down by now. And with more people moving in to the new houses being built around Melksham, this is only going to get worse!”

Chair of Melksham Without Parish Council, Richard Wood, told Melksham News, “I feel that Melksham can feel let down about the loss of exercise facilities in town. This would not have happened if the campus had been delivered as originally planned. I know that there have been many reasons given for the holdup but such an enormous delay is inexcusable. 

“It is certainly true that the Blue Pool gym is too small to cope with the increased numbers from the closure of Curves. 

“City Fitness in Shurnhold and CrossFit Civitas in Hampton Meadow may provide alternatives, but at the moment we are underprovided for. 

“To cap it all, I understand that Trowbridge pool is closed at the moment, placing another strain on the Blue Pool.

“The only real solution will be offered by the new campus. We all deserve to be better informed about what seems like further delays. Perhaps the power of Melksham News can elicit more info from Wiltshire Council!”

Wiltshire and town councillor for Melksham South, cllr Jon Hubbard added, “It’s obviously a blow that Curves has decided to close and clearly this is going to generate additional demand for the currently limited services available at the Blue Pool. 

“Although Wiltshire Council did increase the number of stations available in the Blue Pool when Christie Miller closed, this obviously does not meet all of the demand there is in the town.

“When the new campus opens it will include an additional 75 stations which will increase the capacity significantly, but unfortunately there is a limited amount that Wiltshire Council can do until that opens. 

“I would remind residents that the new Corsham Campus does have extra capacity and anyone who makes use of the facilities there I understand will be able to transfer their membership back to Melksham once the new Campus is open.

“I am delighted that having brought this issue to the attention of the (Wiltshire Council) cabinet member responsible I can say that if any Melksham residents wanted to try the facilities in Corsham, then Wiltshire Council will offer a free 7-day pass.

“It’s obviously really frustrating that the sad closure of Curves has exacerbated the issue of the reduction in facilities until the campus opens, but I have been assured that things are still on-track and hopefully an announcement over the appointment of the contractor and a confirmed build programme will be made soon.”

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