October 24 2014 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Friday, February 7, 2014
Fenland Council apologised to “anyone we have upset” as they announced plaques will be put up to preserve the names Alan Hudson and George Campbell.
Both men are associated with the leisure centres in the two Fenland towns and their names were in danger of being lost following the council’s decision to rebrand its leisure centres.
But a council spokesman announced tonight: “Name plaques are to be placed at the entrances to Fenland District Council’s New Vision Fitness leisure centres in Wisbech and March to honour their original benefactors, Alan Hudson and George Campbell.”
The centre in Whittlesey is also to get a plaque with its traditional name, the Manor. The spokesman added: “And all three will have interpretation boards inside the buildings, outlining their histories.”
Councillor Pop Jolley, Cabinet member responsible for leisure services, said he took the action following protests about the rebranding of all the centres as New Vision Fitness.
He said: “I have discussed people’s reaction with the leader Alan Melton and we have taken all the comments on board.
“We are sorry that we have upset many people – that was the last thing we wanted. The rebranding is all about modernising the image of our leisure facilities to get more people in there and making the most of all their great facilities.
“Giving them all a common brand name is very important for promoting the service as a whole, attracting more customers and putting the centres on a sustainable footing for the future.
“However, we accept that it is right that the original benefactors’ names and generosity should continue to be properly recognised.
“Consequently, we plan to install a plaque on the outside of each centre giving its traditional name, and couple that with a new information board inside outlining its history. This will ensure that history is known and understood by more local people than ever before.’”
Cllr Jolley said that overall the feedback on the improvements made to the centres’ facilities had been positive and that membership had increased sharply since the launch of the New Vision Fitness brand and the installation of state of the art gym equipment last month.
“January has been really busy, with membership sales up 39 per cent on the same month last year - 402 memberships have been sold, compared with 290 in January 2013,” he said.
“On top of that, all the centres have been buzzing, with people making maximum use of everything - gyms, pools, fitness classes and soft play areas. So we’re very confident we are on the right track.
“Again, I’d like to apologise to anyone we have upset. That was never our intention – we are simply doing all we can to improve the centres and make them sustainable for the future.”
Last Saturday a petition organised by independent councillor Virginia Bucknor attracted nearly 400 signatures calling for the name of Alan Hudson to be preserved.