QUESTIONS have been asked again about whether a multi-million pound refurb of Malvern’s swimming baths will actually improve services.

Malvern Hills District Council leader Sarah Rouse was asked to explain how services would be improved at the newly-refurbished Malvern Splash, which has had £2 million spent on its refurb, when it opens in 2021.

At the latest full council meeting of Malvern Hills District Council, Liberal Democrat councillor Kaleem Aksar asked council leader Sarah Rouse to explain how services were to improve, given facilities such as the steam room had been cut.

Cllr Aksar also asked what ‘market testing’ had been done to see what people in Malvern want from the Splash and what improvements could be made.

Responding to Cllr Aksar, Cllr Rouse said: "The leisure sector is in a fair degree of turmoil, that is putting it mildly.

"Getting firms to engage in any kind of market testing or tendering exercise would be extremely difficult and possibly very unwise.

"Our current contract with Freedom Leisure still has 10 years to run, and when we tendered the service five or ten years ago, Freedom's bid was extremely competitive and we were satisfied we had agreed a good deal for out tax payers."

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Aksar said: “It’s very important that leisure services like The Splash are protected for the future so they can reopen for residents after Coronavirus. But we are deeply concerned that so much money is being spent without any improvement to services being offered to residents."

Earlier this year, residents voiced their concerns as plans for the Malvern Splash were revealed to not contain a sauna.

The sauna/steam room was removed from plans because it isn't used very much despite costing £12,000 a year to maintain. This is according to Freedom Leisure, the firm behind the refurbishment, and the district council.

They also said 'improper use' meant it needed to be constantly repaired and blamed its disappearance in part on social distancing restrictions required during the current coronavirus outbreak.

The project should be completed in December, two months earlier than scheduled, and will involve full refurbishment of the swimming pool changing rooms, including dedicated changing facilities for people with disabilities and additional family changing areas.