CAMPAIGNERS want the Oasis Leisure Centre protected from being sold off while efforts are made to find somebody to run it.

The Co-operative Party – closely aligned with Labour – has applied to have the building listed as an asset of community value after it was announced last week that operator GLL and landlord Seven Capital see it as no longer viable.

The land and building were transferred to the latter – a private company – by Swindon Borough Council as part of the agreement to build an indoor snow centre on cleared site across the road in North Star. 

If the building is designated as an asset, it will give community groups six months to see if they can bid to run the centre – if Seven Capital decide to sell it. 

The Oasis opened in 1976 and its distinctive pool and Domebusters slides have attracted visitors from miles around ever since.

Co-operative Party member Sarah Church said: “We hope another provider can be found to take on the centre. 

“It’s very important for so many members of the community. It’s a real blow if we lose it. It’s not just a matter of saying ‘go to the Link or the Health Hydro’. There are plenty of people who don’t have the transport to do that. 

“And places like the Health Hydro probably don’t have the capacity that’s needed anyway.  

“So the bid for listing Oasis is more about protecting it from being sold.” 

The decision on whether to list the Oasis as an asset of community value will be taken by council officers. They will judge the bid against criteria in the 2011 Localism Act – specifically whether ”current use of the building furthers the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community”.

If it is listed then should Seven Capital decide to sell the site, community groups will be allowed six months to try and organise to run it themselves. 

Ms Church said: “This is no guarantee, but we’ve sent this application in as a first practical step to I hope to see the council approve the application and to do everything in its power to retain a really popular leisure facility on that site.” 

Council leader David Renard said: “It is a legal process where council officers apply the law, and councillors are not involved." 

But he is not in favour of the bid, adding: “My first priority for the Oasis is for Seven Capital to secure a new operator for the centre and then to come up with a long-term plan for its refurbishment. The council is in discussions with Seven Capital on how that might be achieved. 

“Listing the Oasis as an asset of community value could mean a six-month delay in any necessary decisions. Any changes to the Oasis’ current status could have implications and unintended consequences for its future and it is very important that noone does anything that might make finding a solution for the Oasis more difficult.” 

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson is also wary, but not entirely against the idea. 

He said: “It would certainly be worth very serious consideration, though we need to be cautious that this would not prevent a modernisation of the Oasis, presuming the snow centre doesn’t proceed. 

“Investment is needed in the Oasis and we mustn’t inadvertently prevent that.”