Derry's council has moved to reassure the public that both refunds and alternative arrangements will be available for those affected by the temporary closure of the Templemore Sports Complex.

The facility will shut will be closed for three weeks from July 31 to August 20, 2017 to allow for £120,000 of reinvestment work and essential maintenance.

The closure was agreed at Thursday afternoon’s meeting of council’s Health and Community Committee.

At the meeting Barry O’Hagan, Head of Community Development and Leisure, said that ‘alternative accommodation’ could be found any remaining displaced bookings at other leisure venues.

He added that ‘usage trends’ had shown that the period chosen was the ‘most advantageous time for a closure’ as ‘regular bookings from local clubs, schools etc., are low’.

Mr O’Hagan continued that this option would also ensure the ‘least long-term disruption for users and to ensure services are up a running for the centre’s peak usage period in September’.

He said: “Some bookings such as pitches will still be able to be accommodated at Templemore Sports Complex and it is envisaged that where possible, management will accommodate and manage these bookings on a case by case basis and in consultation with the customer.”

The meeting was told that while the closure would result in a potential impact on income during this period, savings will also be made ‘in expenditure through staffing and energy costs not being incurred with any shortfalls being absorbed by the service’.

Mr O’Hagan added that displaced staff would be ‘re-deployed to other facilities’ and that staff could also take their annual leave during the period of closure, therefore any impact on staff would be ‘minimal’.

Commenting, the SDLP’s Martin Reilly asked if the council was ‘certain if these were the best dates’, with Mr O’Hagan replying that council had carried out an analysis and found that this was the best option due to the holiday period.

His party colleague, Shauna Cusack asked how the closure would affect members of the gym at the Sports Complex, and if they would be getting an extension to their membership.

Mr O’Hagan responded that the council could offer a refund for the three weeks to the members, or they could carry that over into next year.

The temporary closure was then agreed.

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