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Fears at pool contract move

Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014
GI Pool

TOP TEAM: Staff and local board members celebrate Glen Innes Aquatic Centre winning the most outstanding pool at the New Zealand Recreation Awards under CLM management in 2012.

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Change is on its way to council pools and swimmers are wondering why they have been left out of the process.

Glen Innes Aquatic Centre staff have been telling swimmers the council has decided to cut most of its contracts on July 1 in favour of the YMCA.

Eight of the 14 council leisure centres in central Auckland are run by Community Leisure Management at present. Four are run by YMCA.

Pool user Bernie Vincent phoned the East & Bays Courier after hearing the news.

He says it's like history repeating itself; the pool used to be run by YMCA but changed to CLM in 2010.

The 84-year-old Glendowie man has been using council gyms since the 1970s and started training at the Glen Innes centre 12 years ago.

He asked about renewing his annual membership last week but was told CLM can only offer monthly contracts because it will no longer be in charge of the pool come July.

"I've got absolutely nothing against the YMCA or reviews, I think it keeps people on their toes.

"The problem is we have just had no say at all.

"One would have thought we would be considered or even asked what we thought about the facilities."

CLM's management of the pool was outstanding from the start and there were marked improvements in hygiene, appearance and cleanliness when it took over, Mr Vincent says.

The Glen Innes centre won the outstanding pool award at the 2012 New Zealand Recreation Association Awards while under CLM management.

Staff fear they will have to reapply for their jobs and what the changes might mean for pool programmes, personnel numbers or salaries is unclear.

"You've got to ask why it's happening. I've heard nothing but glowing reports," Mr Vincent says. "It doesn't sound like any reason that they should have lost it."

Swimmer Graeme Thomson says the real concern for members is whether the change could downgrade the quality of the facility.

"Have they actually done any research with the public?

"Simply to change doesn't necessarily mean to change for the better."

Local board chairman Simon Randall says during consultation the board requested all five Maungakiekie-Tamaki recreation centres be managed by the same organisation.

The facilities are run on the local board's budget but the contracting decision was made at a higher level, he says.

"The aim is to deliver on what the community is seeking to get out of the experience in a more networked way. It can now be co-ordinated, particularly between the Glen Innes and Panmure pools."

Auckland Council manager of leisure Rob McGee says the tender process started in September and was designed to encourage management with a real community focus.

The council is still in the negotiation process with a "preferred participant" but has not formally announced which one, he says.

"We're trying to connect our facilities to what the local board is looking to do and how we connect with the community."

Maungakiekie-Tamaki councillor Denise Krum says the consultation process could have been stronger.

"The local board should have been more informed but it's a competitive tender process. Let's hope the public wins one great contract after the other."

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Both CLM and YMCA declined to comment.

- East And Bays Courier

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