THE row over why a sauna is to be removed from Malvern’s swimming baths is continuing, with sauna users accusing the council of taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis and not consulting them.

Sauna facilities at the Malvern Splash are not included in the multi-million pound refurb to be carried out by Malvern Hills District Council and Freedom Leisure.

As a result, sauna users in Malvern have complained about the move, saying it was done without consultation.

One, Katy Martin, said: "I am currently trying to challenge the decision made by Freedom Leisure and Malvern Hills District Council to permanently remove the sauna and steam rooms from Malvern Splash.

"There has been no negotiation or discussion with service users as to what we want in our centre.

"All their reasons for removing it are frankly untrue and invalid.

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"No one is offering to discuss the issue, and are taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation to slide this action through without challenge."

Freedom Leisure managing director Ivan Horsfall Turner said keeping the sauna “cannot be justified” given low usage numbers, the cost of maintaining the facility and the needs of the council to reduce its carbon footprint.

He said: "There are also the challenges faced from the need to adhere to the strict guidelines due to Covid -19 which make the operation of sauna and steam rooms in a safe way difficult.

"Consultation with customers would have meant a delay to the overall start of the bigger project at the centre and would have been unlikely to have made a difference to the final decision.

"Although this is disappointing for a few of our customers, we know the £2million refurbishment of Malvern Splash will lead to a much-improved facility for everybody."