Concerns have been raised over the “privatisation” of public swimming sessions at a Preston leisure centre.
Dr Steven Finlay has been swimming at West View Leisure Centre for the past 20 years, two or three times a week.
But this week he abandoned attempts to get in the water after discovering more than half of the pool sectioned off for private classes.
He claims several people have complained about changes brought in by management company Greenwich Leisure Ltd, since April 1. Changes also affect Fulwood Leisure Centre.
The 49-year-old from Fulwood said: “All the sessions I attend after work, on Sunday evenings and Saturday afternoons have been modified or have gone. On Tuesday there was just a lane or two for the public, with a private swimming class taking place in the rest of the pool.
“The public swimming area isn’t fit for purpose, because there’s no room to swim, and if you’re a parent of a young child, then you also don’t want someone bombing down trying to swim so close to you.”
The statistician has worked out that for mid-week public swimming sessions after 5pm - the time when most working people can attend - the public is excluded from at least half of the main pool for more than 77 per cent of the pool’s opening hours.
Swimming classes at West View are conducted by Preston Swimming Club and the Better Swim School, part of the leisure centre.
A Spokesperson for Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), which runs West View Leisure Centre and Fulwood Leisure Centre, said: "We have taken on the operational management of Fulwood and West View Leisure Centres with a mission to get more people more active more often and tackle the very real health inequalities across Preston.
“Changes to the pool programme have been made as a result of consultation, analysis of current usage and industry best practice. The new programme will ensure there are more opportunities for public swimming during the morning and evenings. At weekends, we have placed more of an emphasis on children and family fun sessions with pool inflatables.
“We understand that the changes are an inconvenience to a small number of our existing regular swimmers. However we feel that the new programmes at both centres compliment each other with customers very welcome at both centres. Customers will also continue to benefit from highly accessible prices and concessions where eligible.
“We are pleased to report an increase in numbers using the centres.
“We will monitor the changes and seek feedback from all our users to continue improving the service.”
Preston Swimming Club have been approached for a comment.