Derry City and Strabane District Council has agreed to take on board concerns about swimming pool timetable changes at Foyle Arena after they caught some users by surprise.
One angry mum of two young children contacted the Sentinel on discovering the facility was closed to the public at designated times during swimming lessons.
Julie Bryson, a regular visitor to the St Columb’s Park-based facility, said others shared her frustration at the impact of the recent review. In response, the local government authority said it has scheduled the swimming lessons programme at off-peak hours to minimise disruption.
Julie explained: “I have just discovered on Facebook page that Foyle Arena ‘public swimming pool’ is closed to the public from 3pm to 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 12 Saturday because of swimming lessons.
“I would use the facility weekly with my two young children but can only avail of the facilities after 6.30pm on a week night now which is too late for my children or on Saturday after 12pm.
“I know a lot of people who were unaware of the changes made (during the Christmas holidays) and turned up at the arena to use the pool with their children last week and were unable to because the entire pool is closed to the public during swimming lessons and as a result they were very annoyed.
“I can understand some of the reasons behind the timetabling changes, ie safeguarding of children during the lessons, but to restrict public access so much - and to a public facility - and without much warning, notice or it seems, public consultation is disgraceful and high-handed and more about profit than the people who use it.”
A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council confirmed that the Foyle Arena has recently reviewed its swimming lesson programme taking into account increased demand, safeguarding and recent customer feedback in relation to shared use.
The spokesperson added: “To accommodate the revised schedule, the learner pool and the main pool will be allocated exclusively to the swimming programme at designated times throughout the week. The lessons have been scheduled during off-peak times to ensure minimal disruption.
“We will take this feedback into account when reviewing services and timetables for the new programme commencing in March 2017.”