CUSTOMERS using the city council’s leisure centres have ‘lower than ideal’ confidence whether issues raised at meetings with managers are being followed up.

The assessment was made by auditors who were commissioned to look at the way Fusion provides services in the leisure centres.

Last year, the council worried after figures showed the number of people using them had dropped by 350,000.

But the most recent figures showed that there has been a huge 32 per cent upturn in visitors.

Fusion said 1.02m people visited the leisure centres between April and December last year. During those months in 2017, just 773,750 people had visited, it said.

It is somewhat unexpected, with Fusion claiming last year that the increase of budget gyms across Oxford meant it was difficult to attract customers.

But Mark Munday, Fusion’s divisional manager, said: “I think it’s fair to say that we did have a low-performing 2017 so the 2018 figures are more in line with 2016, 2015. It’s not such a large rise in view of 2016.”

Auditors found no major problems with Fusion’s work but said there were ways it could be improved.

Customer forums at leisure centre ‘do not operate as effectively as they should’, they said.

Text message alert services and other commitments to call back customers within 24 hours were ‘not working effectively’ either.

While a phone app was advertising outdated promotions to potential customers, the report found.

But auditing firm BDO said all of the source data Fusion provided was validated and it could give ‘logical reasons’ for its work.

Councillors had asked for the independent audit last September over worries Fusion’s figures were inaccurate.

The findings will be discussed at a city council audit committee next Monday.

Fusion runs the Leys Pools and Leisure Centre in Blackbird Leys and Oxford Sports Park in Horspath, which also serves as Oxford United’s training ground.

It is also responsible for Barton Leisure Centre, Oxford Ice Rink in Oxpens Road, Oxford Spires Sport and Fitness in East Oxford and Ferry Leisure Centre in Summertown.

The auditors also found the satisfaction in services has increased from March 2016 to last September.

In March 2016, overall monthly satisfaction was measured at 75.6 per cent.

Last September it was measured at 86.4 per cent.

Fusion has charitable status and was first launched in London in 2000.

The council signed its first contract with Fusion in March 2009 and decided to extend it in February 2014 to April 2024.