Concerns over safety at Thornton Heath leisure centre could result in screens being put up in the reception area providing a barrier to protect staff against intimidation from members of the public.

The council is also looking at temporarily removing the benches from outside the leisure centre which are frequented by street drinkers in a bid to displace the anti social behaviour following complaints about harassment.

A recent meeting between management and leisure centre users also became heated with customers frustrated by the failure to tackle long standing issues. While there have been some improvements on the cleanliness front, all the women’s toilets were out of order for weeks complained one user, leaving  two disabled toilets which were described as ‘filthy’.

Customers also say GLL, the not-for-profit social enterprise which operates the borough’s leisure centres under the ‘Better’ brand, have reneged on promises not to increase membership fees. 

At the first meeting between Better and leisure centre users, it promised no increase on membership but customers say they have been told to expect rises of £4 a month from this month which GLL says in line with the new membership charges.

Jeffrey Greaves  wrote on behalf of customers at Thornton Heath and South Norwood Leisure Centres last month to council leisure cabinet lead Oliver Lewis  about the ‘unjustified price increases’.

In his letter Mr Greaves says: “It would appear that GLL has merely tolerated the Users Group as a cosmetic exercise. We meet with management, convey concerns and ideas and have been given false assurances.

“For instance we were told that people who were previously Fusion members would not see their membership fees increase until next year and those increases would not be higher than inflation. Yet members have been advised by GLL that there will be price increases.”

A four month make over is underway at Thornton Heath leisure centre as part of a package of investment into council-owned leisure and sports centres . 

This includes refurbishing changing areas in both the health and fitness area and sports hall , with new showers, flooring, redecoration and brighter lighting.   

The gym area will also get a  revamp, with new equipment and a fresher, more attractive environment for working out.  Spin enthusiasts will be delighted to see a new dedicated studio installed, and the old bikes replaced with the latest Technogym cycles.

A GLL Spokesperson said: “Leisure in Croydon is seeing the largest investment in a generation with big improvements to facilities and a focus on increasing physical activity rates in the borough.

“GLL’s headline Membership prices have been kept at the same rate and we’ve corrected some legacy pricing inaccuracies.

“Our priority is to maintain a safe environment for customers and staff.

“The leisure centre is in the no drinking zone so the local police Safer Neighbourhood Team and Neighbourhood Safety Officers will enforce as part of routine patrols.”