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“An excellent but poorly managed facility that does not value subscribers”

Dorchester Sports Centre, UK
Ranked #31 of 47 things to do in Dorchester
Attraction details
Reviewed 2 May 2014

The 1610 Leisure Centre was a wonderful addition to the sports facilities in Dorchester. Early fears of cuts to staffing when the centre transferred from its old location were quickly replaced by a sense of pride in the architectural vision and quality of the facilities. Staff seemed to have been relocated and I remember feeling tremendous pride that this magnificent building and all it had to offer were just minutes from my home. Better still, my wife and I enjoyed reduced rates as employees of the local secondary school.

It saddens me to relate that after much effort to resolve membership difficulties I have this week cancelled our subscriptions. The management of the centre decided to implement 6 monthly checks on the status of subscribers without notifying members. The first thing I knew was when my membership card would not allow me through the turnstiles and I had to be called over to reception to be told that I must bring in numerous pieces of 'evidence' to prove the validity of my subscription. I duly returned with my identity badge but this was not sufficient and nor apparently was my P60. A current payslip was acceptable and they wanted to photocopy this with all my personal details which I was not particularly happy about. It would seem I eventually had enough evidence to be approved but it looked as if my wife would not.

We have deliberated for a few weeks and made our decision to go elsewhere based on a few other factors. Firstly the attitude to the centre's own employees which seems to be poor and many have left. Secondly the state of cleanliness and maintenance at the centre. (A damaged roof from February is still not repaired as I write in May!) Thirdly the staffing levels which seem to have been reduced since opening, at least in the gym.

We are extremely disappointed to be leaving the centre as it is both convenient and very well designed in most respects. I am not as concerned about the changing facilities for the pool as some others - this is common practice in France. It is problematic that people enter the shower area with outdoor shoes which then contaminates the feet of swimmers and potentially the pool.

As others have mentioned a good cafe would really bring a much better community spirit. Bridport Leisure Centre also closed its cafe some years ago and it felt like a very different place thereafter.

I hope that in due course the franchise may be offered to a better company who are not just in the business for pure profit. Several approaches to resolve our difficulties have either gone unanswered or led to more confusion. 1610 seem not value their subscribers.

5  Thank Symphony1010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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9 - 13 of 13 reviews

Reviewed 24 April 2014

Very helpful and friendly staff. Lovely swimming pools and viewing gallery.
Temperature in the pool and changing rooms very comfortable.
Did NOT like the fact that there is no gender segregation in the changing areas. So making it impossible to properly shower following a swim. And possibly making it impossible for some ladies to use the facilities for cultural reasons.
Quite disconcerting in fact!
And, a cafe would be very welcome.

1  Thank Cat C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 August 2013

This long-awaited new Sports Center provides both swimming and gym facilities in this county town of Dorset, S.W. England. I had eagerly anticipated a visit, having read press reports and online information about the pool, managed by a professional 'non-profit' company.

I have no quarrel with the sports facilities themselves (described as 'state-of-the-art'), but was immediately struck by the contrast between the support facilities (i.e. changing and showering) for the upstairs gym - excellent separate areas for men and women - and the tacky communal cubicle changing and communal showering below (with four cubicle showers attached as a token to privacy). It is unarguably a two-tier system, the upstairs catering mainly for membership patrons. For swimmers, the lack of privacy and proper showering space, has attracted criticism, even disbelief at the incompetence in the planning, though I have heard that Council-lead recommendations were based on 'equality', family convenience, and considerations of surveillance and maintenance on the part of staff.

From friends and contacts in the area, I know that many keen swimmers will avoid using the pool in favour of other established pools in the area e.g. Weymouth, which offer decent gender-segregated facilities. For convenience sake, I have persevered, though the magic of a new pool has now dwindled without the accustomed after-swim shower in a relaxed male environment. One female patron I noted has made similar comments publicly re the awkwardness of attempting a 'proper' shower in one of the semi-public cubicles provided, and having to change back into her wet costume to return to a changing cubicle.

I raised this with staff at reception: one suggestion was that a towel could be used for cover on the way! There is also the discomfort of getting one's feet dirty from the public thoroughfare immediately adjacent to the communal shower room. Another 'unofficial' suggestion was to use the upstairs facilities - not, I would have thought, acceptable to management.

All considered, a muddle borne of conflicting criteria. The provision of group-changing rooms (when available) and family-changing cubicles allow some flexibility, but privacy and personal space I would suggest are the minimum standards expected by a discerning public.

3  Thank Globesetter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 June 2013

The swimming pools and viewing gallery are excellent, it's just a shame that the is no cafe or sports hall.

1  Thank AnnHeather
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 9 March 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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