Public access to top Yorkshire independent school Ampleforth College sports centre to be restricted due to 'increasing costs'
The St Alban’s Sports Centre will no longer open in the mornings or offer fitness classes and members of the public will not be able to purchase memberships due to rising operating costs.
The Roman Catholic boarding school’s facilities include a swimming pool, gym, sports hall and squash courts which have historically been open to the wider community.
Although these are used by Ampleforth pupils, access has been granted around teaching times and during school holidays.
The nearest council-run indoor pools and leisure centres are in Malton, Pickering and Northallerton.
A statement from the Ampleforth Abbey Trust, which managed the facility, read: “Due to increasing costs affecting the UK leisure industry, including rising energy prices, it has become necessary to review the sustainability of our operations here at St Alban’s Sports Centre.
“As such, we have taken the decision to reduce both our opening hours and our offer to customers from 1 March.
“After this time, our general opening hours will be Monday-Friday 12pm-8pm and Saturday 9am-4pm. Operating during these hours will mean that our public swimming lessons, and offering for local schools can continue as usual.
“Pay-per-visit use of our sports hall, fitness suite and swimming pool will also continue to be available to the public in these hours. The centre will no longer offer sports centre memberships or fitness classes.
“All current members will be contacted individually in the coming days, and refunds will be arranged for those who have paid in advance. Direct debits will no longer be collected from 1 March.
“We’d like to thank you all for your custom of St Alban’s Sports Centre and for your understanding as we take this difficult yet essential decision.”
When contacted for further comment, an Abbey Trust representative said: “The St Alban’s Sports Centre is operated independently by the Ampleforth Abbey Trust as a core facility for Ampleforth College, a facility which has also been offered to our local community. The exceptional rise in our energy and equipment costs means that the centre is now operating at a significant loss and is no longer sustainable.
"Following consideration of alternative models (including a model of increased membership fees), the only option for us to remain open is to cut costs by reducing opening hours and prioritising the centre’s core function as a College facility within those hours. This was a difficult decision to take as it has meant that regrettably it is no longer feasible to offer public memberships. Members of the public will still be able to use the centre on a pay-per-visit basis and we will be releasing the timetable for this imminently.”
Ampleforth College and the Abbey Trust have sold a number of assets in the past year, including Gilling Castle, the former site of prep school St Martin’s until 2018. The Grade I-listed country house, which has its own sports facilities, has been purchased by a Bradford-based property developer. Arable farmland that in the past was farmed by the monks of Ampleforth Abbey has also been sold to a long-term tenant.