‘Cold, unwelcoming and long queues’ - visitors slam Rugby’s new £12m leisure centre

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Centre.
The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Centre.

Long queues, high prices and poor design are among the gripes expressed by visitors to Rugby’s new £12 million leisure centre.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Centre opened at the end of August, replacing the Ken Marriott.

But many customers are unimpressed. Jonathan Marlow, who lives in Rugby, said the facility is unacceptable.

“If you can’t get the centre to feel exciting, fresh and welcoming when it first opens then it doesn’t give much encouragement for what it will be like in a few months.

“We expected so much more.”

Mr Marlow’s family arrived at the centre for a swim to find long queues.

“The queue proceeded to get longer while one of the two receptionists ponderously counted change out into her till,” said Mr Marlow. “When we finally got to the counter there was no apology for the delay, and no welcoming smile. You’d have thought the staff were embittered old-timers – not working in a new, exciting venue.”

He said admission was £7.60 for a swim for two adults and a three-year-old.

“I have no idea how that amount was made up – there was no scale of charges to refer to anywhere.”

He described the changing area as “unpleasantly cold” – a fault shared with the pool, which he also said is “uninspiring”.

Andrew Haighway, who lives in Rugby, was also critical. He said: “The general facilities are of a high standard but there are a number of points that frankly are beyond belief.

“There is minimal lighting in the temporary car park – it is only a matter of time before crimes start to occur.

“Queues of ten and 15 minutes have become the norm just to go to the gym or for a swim.

“There is only one cold water supply to the gym and amazingly that hasnt got a plug socket to it so it dribbles luke-warm water.

“On the ground floor all of the changing facilities are unisex and the showers have been set up so that you can be seen showering from the cafe, the gym, swimming pools and changing rooms. God forbid you should want to shower without your swimming costume on.”

He has complained to Better, the company running the centre, but has had no reply.

Mum Claire Heritage was looking forward to taking her daughter to swimming lessons.

“When the leisure centre opened I contacted them to enquire about swimming lessons. I was told to contact them via the website. I filled out the enquiry form online four times and nobody contacted me.

“I then phoned them to follow these emails up as was told that they had a lot of enquiries and that I should 
get a call back before Christmas.”

The time of the swimming lessons was then moved.

“They said they didn’t know why as they said that we should usually be contacted and consulted.

“After quite a long while of waiting around they came back to say that Amelia’s lesson will remain the same and apologised for the confusion.”

She said Amelia has now had three lessons and everything seems to back on track.

Cllr Heather Timms, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for planning and culture, said: “The number of people using the centre is far greater than we were expecting so soon after opening. Overwhelmingly the feedback has been positive.

“The number of people using the centre did cause us some problems, especially in the first few days when the staff were getting used to the centre.

“There is now a concierge service in busy times and more information on the centre website, both of which have reduced queues.”

Cllr Timms said she was not aware of any problems with the car park, which has been in use since March last year.

She added: “We always said that the last stage of the project would be to build the new car park and remove the temporary car park, and that is what is happening now.”