Opening Times for Fit and Chips

By Jane Cruickshank / August 9, 2023
a seagull is perched on the roof of a car parked in front of the fish and chip shop

IN Stonehaven it is easier to buy fish and chips than exercise at the leisure centre gym – so says one of our community councillors.

Jim Stephen was speaking at last night’s meeting of Stonehaven and District Community Council. He said he was a regular visitor to the gym – and was concerned at a recent, unannounced reduction in opening hours.

The leisure centre’s indoor pool and sauna are closed at the moment. According to the Live Life Aberdeenshire website residents can use the games hall and fitness room from 8am – 8pm Monday to Thursday; 8am – 5pm on Fridays; and 9am – 3am at the weekend. Last entry meanwhile, is one hour before closing time.

In his inimitable style, Mr Stephen highlighted the importance of sport and physical activity for our health and wellbeing – and his dissatisfaction with Stonehaven’s leisure provision.

He said: ”Meydan chipper is open longer than our leisure centre. A chipper!

”If this is Live Life Aberdeenshire’s push to get the nation fitter again, and a chipper is open longer, then they seriously need to take a look at themselves.”

Mr Stephen, said he pays the £33 monthly subscription for the leisure centre and would prefer to remain a loyal customer – but said other users were unhappy with the service and voting with their feet.

”The communications from Life Life Aberdeenshire have been absolutely shocking,” he said.

”They are losing customers to the new gym. Tell me why I should keep my subscription when they do not care.”

Are we being short changed?

Aberdeenshire Council are certainly not heavy weights when it comes to keeping gyms etc open. A quick saunter around other local authority websites, looking at communities comparable in size to Stonehaven, reveals Forres residents (Moray) can pump iron from 7am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 3pm on Saturday, and 9am to 4pm Sunday.

In Montrose (Angus), a brand new gym is on offer at the sports centre boasting a 25m 6 lane swimming pool, 13m by 7m studio pool with adjustable floating floor, health suite with sauna, steam room and relaxation area, 50 station fitness suite, junior gym, group exercise cycling, 2 studios, meeting room, 2 squash courts, outdoor pitches and athletics – and a cafe. All of this can be enjoyed Monday to Friday 7.30am – 9pm and 9am – 4pm at the weekends.

Meanwhile the folks of the Black Isle (Highland) can work out in a two-roomed fitness suite, visit a versatile community theatre also hosting dance and fitness classes, use a four court sports hall or book one of the meeting rooms on offer at their leisure centre from 9am to 10pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm at the weekends.

Aberdeenshire Council’s response

A Live Life Aberdeenshire spokesperson said: “In addition to seeing changes in patterns of use post-Covid, the summer traditionally presents challenges for our operations.

“Recruitment, illness and staff holidays often necessitate cancellation of sessions and activities at short notice which causes disappointment and dissatisfaction among customers.

“Waiting lists across all our venues are also starting to grow and, with the launch of our new membership in September, we will require additional capacity at peak times. The summer programming will release our teams from operations to undertake further training to build the capacity required later in the year.

“We have also undertaken an in-depth review of our timetabling and activities and identified where facilities are busy to enable us add additional sessions and, where we are quiet, to remove any poorly-attended sessions.

“These changes will support Live Life Aberdeenshire to deliver an efficient service and to offer a wide variety of activities which reflect the changes in demand and meet the needs of all service users.”

Imminent closure

The leisure centre is, of course, due to close for refurbishment on August 21st with its reopening scheduled for spring 2024 – subject to potential changes due to the tender process