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Chepstow Leisure Centre naked swimming club could close over cut in opening hours

Chepstow Leisure Centre (Pic: Google Street View)

A NAKED swimming club has warned it could have to pack up and shut down due to a reduction in the opening hours of a Gwent leisure centre. 

The Western Swimming Club has been meeting for nearly 50 years but fears its weekly swim sessions without bathers or swimsuits to cover their modesty will no longer be “economically viable” if its one hour and 45 minute block booking is reduced by half an hour as planned. 

It wants Monmouthshire County Council to rethink the early closing of Chepstow Leisure Centre – where its members also relax in the sauna and steam room – and a proposed increase in hire charges. 

The county council has said it has had to cut its cloth accordingly due a reduction in its funding but is in touch with the naturist swimming club over the impact of reduced opening hours. 

The club has asked Chepstow Town Council for its support in appealing to the county council not to try and cover the hole in its budget at the expense of its members. It has warned if it no longer meets the centre would lose out on £10,019 in revenue over the year. 

It has told the town council, which has agreed to write to the unitary authority on its behalf, it provides an economic boost to Chepstow as members travel from across South Wales and the West of England for the regular Friday evening meetings. 

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It has told the town council it organises social events such as visiting local pubs, dining evenings in Chepstow and garden visits across Monmouthshire. 

Its letter to the town council states: “We ask for your support in any way to make it clear to Monmouthshire County Council that the price increases and reduction in centre opening hours will have a major impact on our club, our members, leisure centre staff, the local economy and the wider users of MonLife leisure facilities in the county and beyond.” 

The county council agreed £8.4 million of cuts as part of its budget process this year. Leisure centres in Monmouth, Abergavenny and Caldicot as well as Chepstow will close half an hour earlier, at 9.30am, every weeknight and at 4.30pm, rather than 6pm as at present, on Saturdays and Sundays, to help save £140,000 from April. 

A spokesman said: “MonLife officers will now be holding meetings with all clubs that use the leisure centres to discuss how their needs can be accommodated during the new opening times. 

“The council understands that these facilities are essential to all the clubs and will work to minimise any disruptions. The cabinet member for equalities and engagement and officers have already been in touch with Western Swimming Club and further meetings are planned to determine the best way forward for the council to support the club.”