Sauna will close says Fenland Council as neither new owners - or any of the other bidders - wanted to pay to keep it

Hudson Leisure Centre Wisbech. Fenland Council have been asked to comment on reports they will close

Hudson Leisure Centre Wisbech. Fenland Council have been asked to comment on reports they will close the sauna from December 1 on health and safety grounds. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Fenland Council says it will close the sauna at the Hudson leisure centre on December 1 as neither the company taking it over nor any of the other bidders wanted to pay for the cost of repairs and modernisation.

It follows on from an earlier decision to close the indoor bowls club at Wisbech prior to Freedom Leisure taking over all four of Fenland’s leisure centres.

The council said it would have cost up to £12,000 to fit a sprinkler system in the sauna to meet health and safety regulations.

As none of the bids for the leisure centres included retention of the sauna at Wisbech the council decided to close it ahead of Freedom Leisure taking over.

A spokesman said: “The current sauna is quite old, is small and uninviting and potentially not fit for purpose in a modern leisure centre.

“Both the sauna and the area it is situated in require significant investment to bring the facility up to standard.”

“We realise that a small number of users will be disappointed, and apologise that they weren’t given more notice. The sauna and steam facility at the Manor Leisure Centre in Whittlesey will remain open for public use.”

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Councillor Mark Buckton, the council’s portfolio holder for leisure, added: “We take the safety of our customers very seriously and felt, reluctantly, that without a cost effective option available to bring the sauna up to the required safety standard at this time, that it was necessary to close the facility.”

Freedom Leisure is taking over Fenland leisure centres in a deal expected to save the council £350,000 a year.

Freedom says it will invest £1 million into the four centres and half will be at the Hudson as part of what is being described as “an innovative capital investment programme

It is expected the improvements will bring at least 60,000 new customers a year into the centre.

Former Wisbech town clerk Erbie Murat is a regular user of the Hudson sauna and believes it is the wrong decision.

“Why are they closing the facility just three days before handing it over the Freedom Leisure? Leave it open and let Freedom Leisure take the decision after carrying out proper risk assessments.”

Mr Murat said he had spoken in the last week to over 50 sauna users “many of whom use the suite for health reasons and none of us can understand why the council spent so much upgrading the boilers to keep the sauna going in the last year.

“Why they have replaced at great expense the seating in the sauna and why they have even repaired drainage issues and the shower head just last week when they were considering closing it”?

He added: “On health grounds I have been swimming and have used the sauna three to four times a week for the last two years and from dragging my leg around at the start, I am now able to walk for miles again – and I am not the only one who benefits from the exceptional health qualities of sauna.”