The Oasis should be opened as soon as possible using £1m of money borrowed by Swindon Borough Council.

That is the view of the town's Liberal Democrats, who have a long-term vision for a new leisure centre on the North Star site.

The party says the current building – closed since the second lockdown – is not fit for the future. It was built in the 1970s and former operator GLL said it is no longer viable.

Swindon Borough Council, which owns the site, is in ongoing discussions with leaseholder Seven Capital.

But Seven Capital’s director John Watkins and GLL chief executive Mark Sesnan told members of the council’s scrutiny committee last month the building is so old and expensive to maintain its very difficult to run profitably and needs millions of pounds in investment.

This year’s budget – recently approved by councillors – has provision for the council to borrow £5m to assist a private operator with a bid for leisure provision, which could include refurbishing and reopening the Oasis.

The Lib Dem plan relies on using a fifth of that loan to get the existing centre open again.

A spokesman for the Swindon group said: “We propose for £1 million of the council’s loan to be made available for the Oasis’ immediate reopening. Our most vulnerable residents have already gone a year without this essential service. Once the threat of coronavirus has diminished, they shouldn’t have to go a year longer. This fund of £1m would cover the costs to keep the Oasis open for an immediate two-year tenure.”

Over those two years, the Lib Dems say the £4m from that loan should be used as initial capital to start building a new leisure centre with a pool, gym, and fitness studios.

The party spokesman said: “Extra funds will likely be needed to achieve a facility that includes special considerations for our disabled residents; these funds could be secured via an extra loan, private investors, community fundraising or an appeal to Sport England Strategic Facilities Fund. The current centre comprises legacy materials and a degrading structure coupled with expensive upkeep. These expenses would vastly outstrip the costs of building a new modern facility.

“The New Oasis would use modern green techniques to more efficiently keep the pool/pools and surrounding facilities heated and secure.”

The party reckons a new centre could handle 400,000 visitors a year and make £200,000 in profit, which they say would repay the initial loan within 20 years.

Leader of the Lib Dems in Swindon Stan Pajak said: “We support the campaign to save the Oasis and would use the council’s appointed £5m of borrowing to bring it back into use as soon as possible, whilst we push to build the New Oasis, a revamped sports complex to serve the people of Swindon for generations to come.”