Gym users at Clapton leisure centre call on Hackney Council to dump operator GLL over ‘incompetence’

Hackney's King's Hall Baths in Lower Clapton Road

Hackney's King's Hall Baths in Lower Clapton Road - Credit: Archant

Gym users have called on the council to dump its leisure centre operator GLL after being forced to work out in sweltering temperatures all summer.

The air conditioning unit at Clapton's King's Hall Leisure Centre broke in April but it wasn't repaired until last month.

Members said temperatures in the gym regularly hit 26c and did not drop much even after the centre brought in portable air con units.

In a letter to a member, Hackney Council said the centre's handling of the situation was "unacceptable", acknowledging GLL repairmen had been called out in April but refused to carry out an assessment because of other works taking place on the roof, where the units are stored.

He wrote: "This is quite simply not acceptable, and GLL have been informed as such. Safe access to the roof could have been arranged for GLL contractors to assess the works if a request had been made and the unacceptable delay could have been avoided.

"Alternatively, as GLL had a quote for the works, they could have and should have pressed ahead with the repair works regardless of whether they were able to obtain other competitive quotes - a point acknowledged and agreed with by GLL senior managers I have raised this with."

The centre, formerly Hackney Baths, comprises a gym, swimming pool, studio, and sports hall and is run by the non-for-profit enterprise, GLL, under its "Better" brand.

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Hackney council awarded GLL a 20-year contract back in 2009 but members are fed up with the centre's management.

Gym member Farad Shahrokni said: "GLL have been misusing their power and treating Hackney residents as captive cash cows. Being a social enterprise should not be synonymous with incompetence. Hackney residents deserve better, not Better."

He said similar issues with the gym's air conditioning also occurred in the last two summers.

Farhad is the head of a "monitoring and support" committee that recently formed out of frustration of KHLC's handling of users' complaints back in August. The group, which has the backing of 270 members, has demanded a refund of two months' membership fees and that improvements be made on the cleanliness of facilities. The petition was also a no-confidence motion on KHLC's management.

The group will find out whether they are eligible for refunds this week.

A GLL spokesperson apologised for the delay in repairs and said cleaning will be stepped up. They said: "The age and listed status of the building combined with heavy footfall will always represent a challenge to maintaining the high standards we aspire to as an operator, especially during busy periods, but we are committed to doing so."

Another complaint was made regarding an incident where a staff member unwittingly surrendered the personal information of a member to an off-duty police officer, also a member, who had asked for them following an argument.

GLL has said the complaint has been investigated and dealt with and that the affected parties have been notified of an outcome.