Sadness as children's activity group in Clevedon axed after more than two decades
A much-loved activity group for young children held at Clevedon's leisure centre for more than 20 years has been axed as it was no longer profitable.
Parents of children who attend the Tearless and Fearless soft play activity group were given the news just four weeks before the final day of the scheme on March 22.
The hour-long sessions for children aged 1 to 4 have been running for more than 20 years at Strode Leisure Centre on Strode Road and were considered a rite of passage for many youngsters in Clevedon, helping them to stay active before reaching school age.
Many parents have been left angry and shocked at the news as there were still 50 children who enjoyed the sessions.
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The hall where the classes ran will now be used for adult exercise sessions as these are thought to be more profitable.
Many staff are angry saying neither they nor parents were consulted over the decision.
Although numbers had dwindled over the past 18 months from a peak of around 85-90, staff felt with better marketing or some new initiative, numbers could have been boosted again.
One angry parent, Ed Hall, said: "It's ridiculous that they've just dropped eight classes a week like that. Some things aren't that profitable but they could have given it some thought and numbers could have improved. I think it could have been subsidised for a while."
Another parent, Geri Want, said: "There was no warning it was just simply axed to clear up space in the hall for other uses.
"That seems a bit mean to many Clevedon children. No one asked us how the sessions could have been improved."
Keith Evans, contract manager for DC Leisure, which runs the centre, said in a letter to parents: "This was a difficult decision to make as the scheme has been such a success over several years. However we have seen a gradual downturn in trade over the past 18 months while operational costs have remained consistent, which has meant the scheme is no longer sustainable."
Nick Yates, a press officer for North Somerset Council, which owns the centre, said: "With the associated instructor costs attached this has meant the scheme has operated at a loss of £3,000 in the current financial year. This is not sustainable.
"We will be investigating alternative schemes to replace Tearless & Fearless such as GUGAFIT which reaches out to local schools and children aged between 5-11."