The Adver is today asking its readers to help get the Oasis Leisure Centre open again for the people of Swindon.

Operator GLL announced in November it would not be reopening the iconic facility after the second nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 and running costs.

The reaction in Swindon was one of great sadness and sorrow that youngsters would no longer be able to enjoy what previous generations had loved – including the Domebusters slides and lagoon pool complete with its famous wave machine.

Swindon Advertiser:

One way to secure a future for the Oasis is to back the Co-operative Party’s bid to have the centre declared an asset of community value.

If that is accepted by officers at Swindon Borough Council, it would mean the centre could not be disposed of immediately if either landlord Seven Capital – which has about 91 years to run on its lease – or the local authority decides it doesn’t want it anymore.

There would be a stay of execution to see if the community could get together a group and a business plan to run the centre as a going concern itself.

Heading the bid is chairman of Swindon Co-operative Party Patrick Herring.

He said: “The more people we have to sign up, the better it is; the more credible the bid will be to the Swindon Borough Council officers which will make the decision.

“The legal threshold you need is 20, and we have already had more than four times that many people sign up, but as many as possible helps our case.

“It’s just a protective measure in case Seven Capital or the borough council decide they don’t want it anymore – it means it can’t just immediately be sold for houses, and would give the community six months to get a bid to run it together.”

Mr Herring said he hopes the bid will also help identify people who might be willing to help run the centre if it does become an ACV.

Swindon Advertiser:

“It would help if this would flush out people who will want to be involved in running the centre if it comes to that – especially if they’ve got experience of this sort of thing,” he said.

“Six months isn’t a long time to get everything together, so having it sorted early would be really useful. I’d also hope if we got a team and a good plan together early that Seven Capital might consider getting that team to run the centre even if they weren’t looking to get rid of the site.”

Mr Herring said people should sign up as a supporter of the bid to have the centre declared as an ACV at

Readers can also write to councillors and the two Swindon MPs.

The council owns the freehold for the North Star site and gave Seven Capital a 99-year lease in 2011. Borough leader David Renard has put together a cabinet-level task group including both Conservative and Labour councillors to try and get the landlord to find another operator after the current provider, GLL, decided the Oasis is no longer a viable concern.

One of the members of the group is the cabinet member for culture and heritage Dale Heenan. He said he would be challenging Seven Capital and pressing it to find a new company to run Oasis again.

Swindon Advertiser:

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said: “The Oasis absolutely has to be saved, it is an integral part of both Swindon’s heritage and leisure offering – much loved by many generations of families.

“Much-needed investment for the Oasis can be secured from the adjacent land being redeveloped. If Seven Capital is either unwilling or unable to keep the Oasis open, then the borough council must not waver – there are plenty of others who can step in and secure this investment.

“Losing the Oasis is simply not acceptable.”

Letters to the council and your MPs will add the weight of public opinion to their efforts.

Adver editor Pete Gavan said: “If there’s one thing we’ve learned this strange and terrible year is the importance of physical activity and health.

“We can understand why an organisation like GLL might think it’s too hard to make a profit from it with lockdowns and the extra costs of keeping it clean and the necessity for fewer customers at a time – but the greater need is with the people of Swindon.

“Oasis is more than just something of an icon for our town, it is more than just a place of fond memories, where we learned to swim or played badminton or five-a-side.

“For many people in this town, the Oasis is vital – a place to be active, to have fun, to get away from life’s day-to-day pressures.

“If you want to see it open again, then it’s up to all of us – get involved, and make your voice heard.”

Swindon Advertiser:

Dozens of readers commented on the Adver’s website and Facebook page.

Lauz Kent said: “This is such sad news. We’ve been going regularly to a mother and baby swim session throughout lockdown and the facilities have been amazing.

“Everything is thoroughly cleaned and, despite its age, overall, it’s a great place for families to go to.”

Jill Cuss added: “This is very sad. I know Covid restrictions are making life difficult but surely this centre can’t be allowed to close?”

Sarah Alko said: “So where are all the children of Swindon going to go swimming in holidays and where are all the children going to have their swimming lessons?

“Bad, bad decision and will be a huge impact on health and well-being. Stand up to this Swindon Borough Council.”

Swindon Advertiser:

It’s not just Swindonians who want to see the centre back and running.

Father of two Phil Norris would regularly bring his young daughters to Swindon from Cheltenham.

He said: “We loved going to Oasis, it was the nearest place to us with a wave machine and slides.

“We found it really family friendly and the girls loved the children’s pool with the little slides and the bucket that poured water over them.

“If a way could be found to save it, we would definitely be going there again.”

Seven Capital did not respond to a request for comment by the time the Adver went to press.