Popular gymnasium is to close

USERS of a popular gymnasium in a market town have been shocked by a sudden announcement that it is to close.

David Green

USERS of a popular gymnasium in a market town have been shocked by a sudden announcement that it is to close.

The decision to close the BWell gym - based in the Memorial Leisure centre at Harleston on the Suffolk-Norfolk border -comes as the Olympics in Beijing act as a spur to many people to get fitter.

However, the BWell company said yesterday that it had not been able to recruit enough members to make the gym economically viable.

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Its two other gyms - at Hemsby and Gorleston on the Norfolk coast - are unaffected by the decision to close the Harleston business.

A letter to members of the Harleston gym, received on Wednesday, said: “I regret to inform you that due to circumstances beyond our control, BWell at Harleston will cease to trade from the Memorial Leisure Centre on Monday, September 1.”

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Paul Brice, BWell director, said yesterday: “There has been a low uptake of members and we haven't been able to make it viable.”

Mr Brice said there has also been problems in attracting enough qualified staff for the gym which is used by people of all ages - from teenagers to people in their 60s.

Some staff had already found other jobs but there would be “several” redundancies.

Gym staff also look after books at the leisure centre's squash club, members of which have still not been told whether they will be able to continue with their sport.

BWell has run the gymnasium for the past year after taking over from another company which became involved in a dispute with the town council, which owns the building.

Harleston Town Council is considering ways of introducing temporary cover to allow parts of the leisure centre to remain open for the squash and other clubs which use the building.

Sue Kuzmic , council chairman, said: “We are actively trying to put together a business case to try to get the gym re-opened. The council's priority is to provide a service for the community, not as a business which has to make profits.”

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