Re member Re member

Ah, so this is the <irony>real</irony> reason that are friends from @lambeth_council are so busy closing leisure centres all around the Rotten Borough: to fleece customers for the joining fee each time they are forced to become a swimming refugee elsewhere.

You may remember how I was asked to pay a £10 hidden cost when I tried to transfer my GLL Lambeth membership to a wider Swim London membership. I could see that the leisure policy of Lambeth Labour was in meltdown, and for the same monthly £26 payment, I wanted other options.

A bit of behind the scenes work from the lovely GLL management, and my £10 online membership was refunded. Rightly so, seeing as though I had already paid to join (join what?) when I first purchased my GLL Lambeth membership.

Fast forward to this week, and for the first time since the privatisation of leisure in Lambeth, I was able to see the nice man from the GLL membership office during the daytime at Brixton Rec.

We were reassured at the Clap’ham Users Forum to signal the end of swimming in SW4 that all memberships would be automatically transferred over. I wasn’t too concerned at the time. My Swim London membership is valid at all GLL pools throughout London, and I had indeed used it up at Oasis and London Fields.

But then once I became a Clap’ham refugee, my card failed to swipe early each morning. It was a mild irritant at first, but then given the 7am opening time, the lovely smiling receptionist and I came to an agreement.

That agreement was to take up the issue in the membership office at The Rec. Seeing as though kicking out time for public swimming in SW9 is 9am, and the membership office isn’t open until 9:30, this wasn’t exactly practical.

Until half term week that is, where I took the opportunity to sort out my non-swipeable card.

Your membership has expired,” said the GLL membership chap. “You’ll have to pay £10 to renew it.”

Eh? Where the chuffers did that one come from?

There was more…

You’ll only be able to swim at Brixton.”

Overlooking the minor issue that there isn’t actually anywhere else in the Rotten Borough where I can swim right now, I would rather like the option of swimming up at Oasis or London Fields. My membership is called Swim London, not Swim Brixton (But Only Between the Hours of 7-9am.)

I was extremely confused, and so it seems was yer man from GLL. It turns out that my original Swim London membership was linked to Clap’ham Pool. For some unknown reason, the swimmers of SW4 were given the status to be able to swim anywhere. Maybe GLL knew what was coming all along with the Streatham and Clap’ham closures?

Highly unlikely. A more sensible analysis is simply the confusion that crept in at GLL, following the pimping out of leisure by our friends at @lambeth_council. No one is entirely sure right now which particular swimming packages exist, and exactly where and when you can use them.

It’s all about the swimming, isn’t it?

I can’t get angry with the lovely smiling GLL receptionist at 7am each morning (she really is rather lovely.) Likewise I can’t get angry with the other GLL staff on the ground at the Rec, who always stop and make a point of filling me in with the political pressures they are operating under. GLL management are also rather decent, and go out of their way to contact me over any woes I have with my membership.

The real reason for the complete meltdown of leisure in the Rotten Borough comes when the party in powers allows *anyone* but itself to take responsibility for leisure provision.

Tesco, the Cathedral Group, GLL – *anyone* but @lambeth_council itself. I think this is called a *shhh* cooperative form of local government.

Once again it took some online intervention from the lovely GLL management to resolve the issue. I have very kindly been given a free month of membership to make up for the inconvenience, which makes for all of the above moaning seem slightly over the top.

GLL is proving to be very decent at managing a near on impossible situation that it has inherited with the provision of leisure in Lambeth. Staff from the shop floor up to the management have made the most out of a very difficult situation.

To be fair, the Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities was also rather helpful in offering assistance (and apologies) online.

I was peeved though at being asked to pay a joining fee that I have already paid twice. Imagine if the 5,000 daily users at The Rec are also peeved? That’s a lot of political muscle to exercise out there.

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