Fury over swim gala date change

PUBLISHED: 15:29 13 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:42 25 August 2010

A SWIMMING coach has accused a leisure provider of bullying tactics that make running his club a nightmare.

A SWIMMING coach has accused a leisure provider of 'bullying tactics' that make running his club a nightmare.

John Burdett, chair of Erith and District Swimming Club (EDSC), was outraged when his annual gala booked for Crook Log Leisure Centre last Sunday was rescheduled with four days notice.

Parkwood Leisure, manager of the Bexleyheath site as well as Erith and Sidcup leisure centres, said Mr Burdett would have to accept the move, despite accepting the booking in February.

Yet the club chair claims when he has complained about schedules in the past, he has been threatened with sanctions and loss of pool time.

Mr Burdett said: "In a couple of days I had to ring around the parents of 200 children to tell them to come later.

"It's very expensive for us to put on an event like that. But because Parkwood Leisure holds a monopoly in Bexley, we have no choice with it. It's a nightmare."

Mr Burdett claims 'mismanagement' has caused regular cancellations, notably on one occasion when the centre ran out of chlorine.

Furthermore, he said the outfit overbooks outer-borough clubs and events, ignoring his own 330 Bexley members, including more than 200 child members.

Parent Ian Cunningham, 46, from Upper Belvedere, who takes his 11-year-old son Stuart to swimming training four times a week, said cancellations were "infuriating".

He said: "I don't want to take my son out of something he enjoys but if this continues we might have to stop coming. It's just too much hassle."

Bexley council bosses said that Parkwood Leisure had made too many gala bookings leading to Sunday's cancellation, and promised to help change its booking system.

However Parkwood Leisure bosses denied there was a history of last minute cancellations and said it offered a significant discount to EDSC for the inconvenience.

Project manager Richard Tomlin said: "We have no problems with the other groups we work with."

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