The Oasis Leisure Centre's first deputy manager has spoken out about the way this Swindon landmark has been treated.

Chic Carvell, activities manager and deputy general manager from 1976 to 1986, said: "I attended a gathering of people from Swindon outside the Oasis.

"After walking round the outside of the complex, there were no words to describe how I felt as I left and looked back to see how a complex, that was iconic when it was built and used by thousands of people, fall into such a state.

"As the first activities manager and deputy general manager, it was my responsibility to put together a programme of activities that showed the scope of sports and leisure usage that the Oasis offered the community of Swindon.

"Opening the centre on the January 1, 1976, proved to be a great success with some 26,000 people throughout the day coming, not just from Swindon, but from the surrounding towns in Wiltshire, to see this brand new leisure facility.

"The management structure was appropriate to ensure the operation of the centre was efficient and cost effective and it was certainly a learning curve for everyone involved.

"The usage of the complex developed to include a variety of sports and entertainment events.

"The leisure pool became a must for families to enjoy the fun they could have with the waves, water cannon, the slides and flumes, an experience people repeated time and time again.

"The main sport hall became a mecca for groups and acts that were looking for venues that could hold up to 1,500 people, which, for the promoter and the Oasis made it a financially viable facility to hire.

"Unfortunately, like so many councils in the UK, Swindon decided to bring in a commercial operator to take over the running of the Oasis as well as some of the other sports facilities in the borough and as a result of Covid, the operator "Better" made the decision to close the centre down as it was no longer a profit-making concern.

"This was not how the Oasis was run in the early days, it was a leisure complex for the community supported by the council who had the vision for it to be built.

"The community of Swindon is now left with a leisure complex, that, due to political disharmony, is in disrepair and a sad reflection on the council and Seven Capital who seem to be unable to recognise the value of designing and rebuilding a new leisure centre for the community of Swindon.

"Neil, whom I met at the gathering on Sunday and is involved in the Save Swindon Oasis group is a very committed young man trying to make sure the centre is fully resurrected.

"This would include dry side facilities that will provide a main hall that is capable of staging concerts and sporting events as well as being a hub for casual and competitive sport at the community level.

"Since 1971, the population has risen by over 90,000 now standing at 233,000. More and more houses are being built and new industries are coming into Swindon - for example, the building of Warehouses for companies like Amazon, not forgetting the development of the Honda site that will no doubt attract further employment.

"Re-developing just the pool and adding on a cafe, a gym and/or a bowling alley is not what Swindon needs for its ever-growing population with young families.

"Regarding the layout of the pool design. There is sufficient space to create an imaginative configuration that would require a lesser volume of water thereby making the pool more financially viable to run.

"A variety of slides could be built inside the dome structure linked to different pool depths and a different type of wave experience can be created that would require less energy to drive the water movement.

"There is an opportunity to build the New Oasis with sustainable materials that will last for at least another 50 years of which Swindon can be proud.

"It is up to Swindon Council and Seven Capital to ensure the health and well being of the community of Swindon is met by providing a comprehensive recreation facility that is efficiently managed and cost effective to operate."