Swimming is excellent for the whole body; it tones you up and strengthens your heart and lungs.

Swimming is excellent for working both our hearts and lungs, and it does this better than any other exercise.
Because we can’t breathe under water, which means learning to control our breathing is essential.
The control over our breathing, and the physical effort of swimming makes it an excellent cardiovascular sport.

Swimming also improves strength, flexibility and balance.
An important one – Swimming is great for weight control and increased energy levels.
It’s the best calorie burner around.
30 minutes of steady swimming can burn 200-300 calories.
30 minutes of swimming is equal to 45 minutes of activity on land
Because swimming is a full body workout a moderate pace can burn up to 800 calories an hour.
Can you image the benefits of doing that (or even just half an hour) twice a week?

Swimming is great for people suffering with joint or muscular problems - for example people with leg or lower back troubles.
Swimming is a great low-impact exercise.
Basically this means swimming is exercise which puts very little stress on your joints, for example, knees, hips and ankles.

In fact swimming produces 90% less stress on your joints than most other forms of exercise.
This makes it a good activity for recovering after a injury or surgery.

Swimming feels good, and relieves your mind of stress.
People of all different ages and abilities can enjoy swimming, unlike many land sports.

To summarise - swimming enables everyone to have the opportunity of better physical and metal health and provides us all with a chance to have some good old fashioned fun.


Situated at Archery Road Eltham, in Greenwich the Eltham Leisure Centre, is one of the newest GLL/Better centres, with a 25 metre swimming pool, a gym and Fitness Centre with studios that are home to an abundance of Wellness Exercise Classes ranging from Yoga to Circuit Training.

Eltham Pool Fire - Febuary 2010
Eltham Centre - Archery Road
The centre, which forms an extension to the grade II listed Public Library, was opened in 2007.
There was a mysterious fire on Monday 15th February 2010, which resulted in the swimming pool being closed for about six months.

At the time Roberta Woods, an Eltham resident wrote

'It does not surprise me that this (the fire) has happened.
I am a regular user of the Eltham Centre and I have said from the outset that this building was shoddily constructed using cheap materials and cheap Eastern Europen labour.
Almost from the day of opening it has been beset by problems, within weeks two of the taps in the ladies tiolets were hanging off and remained like this for several months also hot water taps could not be turned off  (still a problem) - what a waste, while no water was available from the water machine in the gym for several weeks.
Showers have been blocked, self-service machines are invariably out of order.
As a regular user of the gym I can also confirm that plaster is peeling from the ceiling, bare screws are protruding from plasterboard ,laminate flooring is lifting in places and several pieces of equipment are already requiring attention. This is disgraceful in a building that has not even been open for 2 years. Greenwich Council made much of the fact that they had 'given' this facility to the people of Eltham, what they have in fact done, is saddled taxpayers with an expensive and dysfunctional white elephant.'

Another user commented:

It also seems that there is damp building up in many places, eg. in mens' changing rooms. I bet it won't take much longer until there is toxic levels of fungal growth. If the council had applied the same standards to building control as they do with residential building work we probably wouldn't have had the fire or any of these problems.

Spectators Balcony
Amazingly, a few months after the fire, members of staff, with the approval of the manager, (name removed on the advice of the Metropolitan Police), and the approval of  (name removed on the advice of the Metropolitan Police)  boss, Leigh Allaker, were jamming open two sets of 'fire doors' in order to provide 'air conditioning' for the spectators gallery - 'which was too warm'.
According to Allaker, fire doors may be wedged open for 'operational reasons' - one wonders what a coroner would have made of this if fire had broken out, resulting in the deaths of centre users.
One would think that either the thermostat would be turned down (if there was one) or the spectator's gallery closed.
And were the fire-doors wedged open on the night of 15th febuary 2010 ?
And what would Greenwich Council Health and Safety say about this ?

Focus on the Eltham 25 meter Swimming Pool

Eltham Lido 1933
The pool is situated in the Eltham Centre (see right above) which also houses a Library, council offices etc.
It is an attractive building externally, but the pool and gym are poorly designed, mainly because the design is constrained to an obviously limited budget.
The first Eltham Pool, run effeciently by the local Council was opened in 1933. (see right)

Tom Daley
not using a GLL pool
A swimming pool,of course, can be a dangerous place.When choosing a good swimming pool various factors should be considered,

Eltham Swimming Pool
Is the pool and the surrounding areas, showers, toilets and changing areas clean ?
Is the pool-side free of obstructions ?
Is the pool well designed and well lit ?
Are the non-swimming areas properly supervised ?
With regard to Eltham swimming pool the answer to these questions is a resounding NO !
The pool, a typical example of a GLL/Better Pool, is shown on the right above - note the blue rope thrown carelessly on the floor where children and older people may not see it, and trip.

Lane Dividers
Large Eye Bolt
The Eltham staff also have a nasty habit of leaving the large steel bolts, that secure the lane dividers to the pool wall, on the pool-side.
Standing on one of these steel bolts could lead to a fatal fall, particularly for an older person.
They also leave the same bolts attached under water to the pool-wall, where they could inflict horrendous injuries.

A good pool will ensure that all areas open to the public, other than the actual poolside, will be covered in rubber matting so that people using the pool will not accidentally slip over. - GLL Better do not do this.


Tom Daley - Showering
not in a GLL pool
Many GLL/Better Pools are definitely not clean - (in fact some changing areas actually stink !) , with poorly designed flooring which lacks proper drainage and therefore collects pools of standing, stagnant water.
If you wouldn't accept the standard of cleanliness you see at the pool, changing areas, toilets and showers in your own bathroom - then the do not use the pool.

Danger for Older People

Are the non-swimming areas (changing areas, toilets and showers) properly supervised ? - or, as is the case at Eltham, is it possible for undesirable elements to loiter and harass bona-fide swimmers - particularly older people (see right).
In addition, toilets must be clean, wash basins should have reliable hot water, showers should be powerful and hot.
There should be no areas of standing water in the non-swimming areas.

GLL/Better pools in London, such as Woolwich, Greenwich and particularly Eltham do not meet these minimum standards. - (showers that just dribble barely warm water, sink taps that do not work, or if they work, run cold, empty soap dispensers, broken hairdriers etc,etc).

In addition there have been incidences of dangerously high bacterial levels, and dangerously high chlorine (?) levels, which resulted in temporary pool closure !

And if you are wondering why there is a problem at Eltham then you are advised to consider the photo (right) of the Centre Manager - Ms. (name removed on the advice of the Metropolitan Police)  - and this is not a photo taken when Ms.  (name removed on the advice of the Metropolitan Police) was young and foolish, many years ago, before she took on the responsibility of a large facility - this is a recent photo of a young graduate manage who is obviously not sufficiently experienced to provide a satisfactory service for those using the centre.
And one wonders what the Royal Borough of Greenwich might say about this catalogue of disasters, 
particularly their health and safety department ?

The manageress of the Eltham Centre, while publicly publishing her image on Facebook, does not want to be seen as the manageress of the Eltham centre - which, considering her record in this position, is not surprising.
The centre manager's name is freely available on the web, however.
If you want to know the name of the Eltham Centre manageress go to:


User Comments about the Gym:

Eltham Gym
'The induction process was a bit of a joke, just one example; I wasn't told that you have to swipe your membership card on a random machine and get a wrist band which you HAVE to wear when inside the gym – It took about 4 trips until somebody told me after I had been queuing up at reception for 10 mins at a time.

I have been going to the gym for two months and I still don’t know where the steam room is! There is never anybody to ask !
I pushed myself abit too hard one time and fainted while on the exercise bike, nobody came to help me, despite being out of it for about 2 minutes (according to the timer on the bike).'

Please note:

GLL does not permit the practice of lifeguards standing together as this jeopardises the complete surveillance of the pool and the safety of pool users. Staff that stand together will be subject to formal disciplinary action

The IFI Mark is the nationally recognised standard of inclusion within the fitness industry, awarded to fitness facilities that are inclusive of disabled and non-disabled people.
The accreditation process involves the creation of accessible facilities to meet current best practice and legislation, and the provision of inclusive fitness equipment within the facilities.
This is accompanied by the training of staff throughout the facility, providing disabled people with a safe, effective and value for money experience and the implementation of inclusive marketing strategies to ensure that disabled people are aware of the opportunities available.

Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger's syndrome or Asperger disorder, is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.
It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development.



Greenwich Leisure Limited is a non profit distributing co-operative that runs over sixty leisure and fitness centres in eleven London boroughs, Reading and Epsom and Ewell, started in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
The trust also runs and manages Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.
On 9 January 2012 it was announced that GLL would be managing the Aquatics Centre and Multi-Use Arena of the London 2012 Olympic Games from 2013 for 10 years.
Greenwich Leisure is a staff-led 'Leisure Trust', structured as an Industrial and Provident Society for the benefit of the community. 
The members of the co-operative and therefore owners of the company are the workers of Greenwich Leisure. Alongside democratically elected members of staff, the trust's board includes representation of other stakeholders, including the local communities, borough councils and trade unions.
In January 2011 Nexus Community and GLL merged in a deal that will see the new group operate more than 100 leisure centres across South East England.
GLL and Nexus have worked in partnership since 1996, most recently in the South Oxfordshire area where GLL has subcontracted the management of seven South Oxfordshire District Council leisure facilities to Nexus.

This article appears to be written like an advertisement. Please help improve it by rewriting promotional content from a neutral point of view and removing any inappropriate external links. (May 2012)
The topic of this article may not meet Wikipedia's notability guidelines for companies and organizations. Please help to establish notability by adding reliable, secondary sources about the topic. If notability cannot be established, the article is likely to be merged, redirected, or deleted. (May 2012) (this warning refers to the section above - obviously 'slipped in' by GLL publicity department)

Recently Albion London has been appointed to handle the advertising and rebranding of GLL, which operates more than 100 public leisure centres, after a four-way pitch.
Albion will now be responsible for creating a new brand positioning for GLL.
Focus will also be put on GLL's association with the 2012 Olympic Games …

GLL has been re-branded as 'BETTER' - although it's advertising, using this adverb, almost certainly amounts to a breach of the 'Trades Description Act' - hence our suggested revised logos (see above).

Accurately based on the real GLL Better Logo - these graphics are so naïve that they look as if they were designed using Windows 'Paintbrush' rather than a professional graphics program !
Not really a good advert for a supposed leader in leisure and fitness.
The brand name BETTER is also a 'shot in the foot', as Google searches for 'better' will bring up all kinds of unrelated websites and information, whereas 'GLL' or 'Greenwich Leisure Limited' would focus directly on the intended targets.

What a 'Leisure Trust' Means in Practice:

• Leisure services are outsourced to a separate organisation/company.
The Council retains ownership of the facilities, which are leased to the Trust.
• Virtually all the savings come from rate reductions and VAT savings, which are much smaller initially because of the high set up costs.
• Direct democratic control of the service will cease - elected member representation on a trust is limited to less than 20% of the board. Company law requires that Board members must put the interests of the leisure trust before those of the local authority.
• After a year the Trust will usually cease to use council services and will be responsible its own procurement and contracting or corporate and other services.

The Case Against Transfer

Performance of Leisure Trusts

Leisure trusts do not have a very good performance record.

An Audit Commission analysis of 84 inspection reports on local authority sports and leisure services shows that 6% of directly delivered local authority services were excellent compared to 0% of trusts; the comparable figures for good services were 37% compared to 30% of trusts; 60% of trusts were judged to be ‘fair’ compared with 52% of directly provided services; and 0% of the latter were considered poor compared to 10% of trusts.
On the basis of this evidence, Leisure Trusts are not performing as well as local authority in-house services.
The Audit Commission carried out ten Best Value inspections of local authority leisure services where the Trust was established and operational at the time of inspection. 64% of the Trusts received only a fair one star service and one was rated poor, which has since been returned in-house, and the trust disbanded.
Thus 73% of the Trusts had a poor or fair rating, which suggests that there is a large credibility gap between the promotional rhetoric surrounding trusts and operational reality.

Leisure trusts are arms length companies, which are being rebranded as so-called ‘social enterprises’.
As stand-alone organisations, Leisure Trusts are forced to expand and ‘grow the business’ which means winning additional contracts from other local authorities and/or bidding to takeover more council services. 50% of Leisure Trusts have two or more contracts.
Greenwich Leisure has far more than most.
This process leads to the erosion of ‘local’ or ‘community’ provision, as trusts become contractors and have little choice but to become commercial operations, prioritising business values, cost reduction and income generation, thus eroding public service principles and values.
Community ownership is viewed by many as a potential poisoned chalice – more a means of implementing budget cuts by replacing staff with volunteers and hiving off maintenance to local/cheaper alternatives.

Service Integration

Whilst a single purpose organisation has some advantages, there is increasing emphasis on operating integrated and joined-up services.
Leisure is not a stand-alone service but is an essential part of healthy living, children’s services, regeneration, environmental services and parks and countryside provision. Improvements in community well being, the local economy and social justice can only be a reality if the organisational silos, divisions and cultures are removed from within both within local authorities and between other public bodies.
Transferring services to more arms length companies will make the horizontal and vertical integration of services more difficult and lengthy.
It also makes co-location of leisure with schools and libraries more difficult.
For example, the exclusion of education based sport and leisure facilities from the scope of trust contracts has led to fragmented service delivery and a loss of community benefit.
Similarly, neighbourhood management should be focusing on identifying needs, service delivery and community participation rather than using resources on coordinating a plethora of different organisations and contractors with different remits and responsibilities.
The effect on jobs Greenwich Leisure was one of the first leisure trusts to be established in the early 1990s and is widely quoted as being a very successful “innovative staff-led leisure trust.”, however, UNISON branches in London have reported that many of its employment practices and attitudes to trade unions mirror those of private sector mainstream leisure contractors.
The level of trade union organisation in leisure services in local authorities where Greenwich Leisure has contracts is very low.
One contract reported that only 20% of staff who transferred to Greenwich Leisure are still employed by them.
“Being taken over by GLL is just as bad as any private company. They like to portray themselves as being different as they are a “not for profit” organisation but their management style is the same as any hostile, private sector employer.”
“Greenwich Leisure effectively, does not recognise trade unions.
They don’t negotiate about anything…….This is a company which has no respect for TUPE.” (UNISON, London Borough of Newham).
Other leisure trusts have adopted the same approach to creating a casualised workforce, reducing terms and conditions and paying lip service to trade union organisation and facility time.
Private contractors in the leisure sector have a long record of low wages, high use of casual labour and multi-tiered workforces with minimal rights to pensions.
Trusts competing for contracts against these firms inevitably adopt the same policies and practices.
The fact that leisure trusts and private contractors had virtually the same cost per head of population between 2001/02 and 2004/05 and lower than the in-house cost, is indicative of their employment policies given that labour costs account for a high percentage of total costs (Audit Commission, 2006).
Transfer of services out of the local authority inevitably results in a loss of jobs and/or higher unit costs within the Council.
The quality of employment in trusts has a knock-on effect in the local economy.
'The Best Value Code of Practice on Workforce Matters' is supposed to protect the terms and conditions of staff working for contractors on public service contracts, including new starters, and to provide a negotiating framework for branches facing outsourcing, however, there is no evidence that the government, local authorities, private contractors or trade unions are monitoring the Code thus “it is not possible to say whether these measures are successful, either in preventing a two tier workforce or stopping the driving down of pay and conditions” (UNISON, 2008).

Service Improvement

Leisure services staff, including senior management, will transfer to a trust under TUPE or TUPE Plus. If a council’s leisure service has a lacklustre improvement record then transfer to a trust is unlikely to change this situation. The same management team will be responsible for service improvement .
Most trusts pay lip service to staff involvement in service improvement, yet Beacon Councils with a high level of staff engagement with the scheme reported significantly higher levels of proactivity, innovation, improvement and organisational performance compared to councils with lower levels of staff engagement.

Community Participation

A Leisure Trust has no additional skills, resources or commitment to improve community participation compared to a local authority.
It sometimes claimed that a trust has more ‘freedom’ to operate, but there is no evidence that trusts have implemented a level or quality of participation over and above that which has been achieved by local authority leisure services.
Many Councils have been innovative in establishing new methods to engage service users and community organisations in leisure services.
Participation structures and methods of engagement must be coordinated – service users and community organisations are already critical of disjointed and overlapping consultation with a plethora of different bodies. The Audit Commission has been highly critical of some leisure trusts for a lack of formal consultation with users and sports clubs, for example, Bristol, Merton, and Stockport.

Democratic Accountability

It is often claimed that trusts ‘engage with the community through direct representation’ but this is a distortion of democratic accountability.
Trusts are required to operate as stand alone organisations, independent from the democratic structures of the council.
The council loses a significant degree of control over the delivery of leisure services.
Company law requires all Board members to act in the interest of the trust, (not the councli or local community) over and above their other responsibilities and interests.
They are also bound by commercial confidentiality.
Furthermore, the vast majority of community and business Board members are unelected and ‘represent’ either themselves or a particular user group.
A trust should be subject to the Council’s scrutiny procedures but ensuring rigorous assessment of arms length companies is difficult enough let alone whether and how recommendations are implemented.
If a trust has financial problems, Councillors will have limited influence over the strategies adopted. These will almost inevitably affect service delivery and staff and implementation of corporate policies and priorities get watered down.

Increased Risks

The risks are real and are retained by the Council:
- Financial and organisational failure could result in liquidation of the trust.
- Savings may evaporate and the trust could require increased subsidy by the Council.
- Job losses and wage cuts could occur as the trust struggles with the challenge of stand alone management and company governance and changes in the leisure market.
- Leisure services performance could fail to improve.
- The trust may win leisure service contracts in other authorities but they could impose additional performance and financial pressures.
- If there is little or no substantive change in the level and quality of participation and user involvement this could lead to disillusion and low staff morale.

A long-term vision for the integration of leisure services with other public services, improved democratic accountability with wider user/staff participation is needed in place of short-term budget savings.

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More than 1,600 members of the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre have been barred from using some of the facilities during the Olympics while the Brazilians use it as a training base – and will not be refunded.
The Olympic pool and all racquet facilities will be out of action between July 16 and August 22 as the Brazilian Olympic squad are using the centre as their base during the games.
Regular users of the centre, run by GLL, have been told they will not be refunded and instead told to share the smaller swimming pool with others during the busy summer holidays or travel to Ealing or London Fields, east London – GLL’s only other centres with 50m pools.