THE operating hours at Bowhill Swimming Pool and Cowdenbeath Leisure Centre are to be reduced by Fife Leisure Trust.

Due to budget pressures, the announced management fee from the council will mean the trust cannot maintain current levels of existing services at Bowhill and the Pit Road Leisure Centre, as well as at some of its other sites across the region.

Following consultation with staff, the trust is updating its customers with details of the changes which sees significant changes at both facilities.

Bowhill Swimming Pool will see an overall reduction of 20 hours, with 8 hours 45 minutes less for Cowdenbeath Leisure Centre.

The reduction of opening hours, says the Trust, is targeted at times which in the main are outwith the core peak operating periods and safeguard times for community activities for older adults and children, for example health classes and children swimming lessons.

The reduction also takes into account the trust’s operational requirements for staffing and health and safety requirements, that are mandatory when operating a sport and leisure facility.

The changes to operating hours will have, they say, a minimal impact on the current delivery of the Learn to Swim programme at each site, with only two swimming classes at Bowhill Swimming Pool, subject to alternative arrangement. Swimming clubs have been accommodated with one club being offered an alternative time slot at Cowdenbeath Leisure Centre.

There will be no impact on the trust’s self-funded health and wellbeing programme which support people living with long-term health conditions such as cancer, stroke, diabetes and dementia.

Swimming lessons for participants with additional support needs are being accommodated at alternative sites and there will be no impact on the current bookings for the synthetic turf John Thomson pitch at Bowhill Swimming Pool.

Wendy Watson, chief operating officer for Fife Sports and Leisure Trust, said: “Despite consistent prudent financial management, the Trust must now balance its budget with the funding level recently announced by Fife Council.

"The funding package, coupled with projected income which can be generated from centres and their programmes, means the Trust will not be able to maintain the current levels of existing services. This will inevitably affect the opening hours at some sports and leisure facilities across Fife.

“As a charitable trust, we have a responsibility to ensure the financial sustainability of our programmes and facilities for the benefit of the wider community. Any decision to change any aspect of our service delivery is taken with the objective of ensuring programmes and services are available for a range of users, as, unlike a private operator, we are committed to providing programmes and facilities for all ages and abilities.

“The trust remains committed to widening access for all to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of physical activity and since its launch, has consistently grown attendance rates to its facilities.”