THE owners of a Stratton community centre have been accused of breaking promises to keep a bar area.

Stratton St Margaret Parish Council transferred ownership of Grange Leisure to Parkwood in 2019 so the company could manage it on the council’s behalf for the next 15 years.

Parkwood centre manager Sam Williams and regional manager Paul Mangold attended a council meeting earlier this month to answer questions about how they are handling the facility.

One question kept coming up – when will the café serve alcohol again?

Mr Mangold replied: “We are aware of the previous use of the facility, but we don’t provide bars in our facilities.

“We create a health hub, so you would not see any alcohol on display – we can provide it for birthday parties and things like that, but not day-to-day.”

Coun Glenn Castle said: “My understanding was that the bar would be maintained, in the original agreement.”

Mr Mangold went on to say: “If there was a demand, we would listen to it, but there’s been no demand."

Coun Ann Brooker said: “It’s a community centre not just a gym. It has been hijacked – and you’ve jacked up the prices, so now groups like the over-50s luncheon club don’t meet there anymore.

“People who are isolated have liked going there for its community feel since 1976.”

Mr Mangold promised to take this feedback onboard.

Residents had raised similar fears about the community aspect being forgotten when the change of management was proposed.

The council’s clerk clarified the original agreement was for Parkwood to sell bottled beer on the premises.

A new performance report shows the gym was visited 3,000 times in June and 1,000 people attended events. Overall attendance has gone up from 7,412 people in January to 8,946 last month.

Mr Mangold said the Grange Drive building is still being used as a community hub, hosting events and allowing Great Western Hospital to use the space as a physio and maternity clinic to save patients travelling to the hospital itself after Merchiston Surgery stopped hosting the maternity clinic due to lack of space.

He added: “After the Covid period, we are making inroads to increasing things with the fitness facilities – not just activities but events as well. More events enquiries are starting to happen, and we are looking into supporting September’s Stratton Fete.

“We have refurbished the patio and are looking at a major investment later this year.”

Coun Smith added: “We are having so much positive feedback from the maternity club.”

Coun Laura Butcher was a member and thanked Parkwood for facilitating it.

GPs made 186 patient referrals to the centre in the last six months.

The report said: “The centre is starting to show improvements with memberships providing growth for the last three months and events returning.

“A key focus over the next few months is operational standards and customer satisfaction along with ensuring that Grange Leisure is a household name locally.”