Service standards & guidelines

Our vision statement is to get Darlington residents to eat well, move more and live longer.

The Darlington Sport and Physical Activity Strategy 2013/18 [pdf document] sets out the overall vision, ambitions and desired outcomes for improving the availability, accessibility and quality of sport and physical activity across the Borough.

This Strategy links in with other local documents including:

One Darlington Perfectly Placed [pdf document] and The Health and Wellbeing Strategy [pdf document]

Service Standards/Code of Service

Cultural Services Code of Service is the standard we expect all our staff to deliver when dealing with all customers (please see our Are we making you Happy page). Our customers are anyone we come into contact with whilst at work.

We are committed to ensuring that we and the services we provide meet the needs of Darlington's residents and visitors. We can only do this if we know what people want. This is why we carry out consultations and involve you in planning how our services operate in the future.

If you would like to provide us with any feedback about our service please complete our feedback form [online form, opens in new window]. You can also complete one of our feedback cards, which are available at both our venues.

We carry out daily consultation with our customers and record their feedback; this is then forwarded on to the relevant manager to put right.
Improvements made as result of your feedback is displayed at the Dolphin Centre's customer service desk. 

If you experience any problems with the service provided, require further information or have any comments to make, please speak to a member of staff or contact us on 01325 406000 (Dolphin Centre)/01325 254370 (Eastbourne Sports Complex) or by email at [email protected].


All pool lifeguards are qualified to the national standards required by The Royal Lifesaving Society [external link] and the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management [external link]. We expect the highest level of vigilance from our lifeguards at all times and as such they are required to carry out lifeguard training at least once every three weeks.

Soft Play Assistants

The Dolphin Centre Crèche is inspected by Ofsted and all are assistants are qualified to NVQ level 2/3 in Child Care.


All Coaches are qualified to a standard stipulated by the relevant governing body.

Gym Instructors

All staff working in the gym are Level 2 qualified Gym Instructors. 

A Clean, Safe and Comfortable Environment

All changing and toilet facilities are inspected at regular intervals by a member of staff and any problems dealt with immediately. All equipment is inspected daily to ensure that it is safe working order.  We will take reasonable and practical steps to protect your health, safety and security and will comply with all relevant Health and Safety legislation and guidelines. To ensure your comfort and enjoyment, environmental conditions will be maintained at a level appropriate to the activity taking place. There is always at least one qualified First Aider on duty whenever the centre is open. We have an Emergency Action Plan in place, in which all our staff are trained.

The chemical content of the swimming pool is tested at regular intervals for your safety and comfort. Pool water temperature is maintained around 28ºC. The water is independently tested regularly to ensure its quality.

Accurate Information

Information on opening times, activities and prices will be available in the reception area, as well as online. All equipment and related facilities will be in good working order. 

We will provide activities and programmes that we feel represent value for money. We offer concessionary schemes, such as the Healthy Darlington Everyone Card, in addition to a choice of payment methods.

Choice and Equality

We will offer a wide choice of activities for all ages and abilities, either directly or by working with other organisations.  We will actively encourage participation from all sections of the community. We will respect people’s individuality and ask that customers do the same. 


More information about accessibility


We use a range of indicators to measure how well we are performing such as:

Customer Satisfaction Surveys

We carry out yearly customer satisfaction surveys over a one week period with regard to the overall facilities at The Dolphin Centre and Eastbourne Sports Complex. Random participants are selected as they access the Centres and the surveys are carried out through fact-to-face interview. 

Complaints, Comments and Compliments

We capture complaints, comments and compliments by the following means: verbally, letters, emails, We Make Customers Happy feedback cards and online feedback forms.

Our compliments are recorded on a Brag Log and we feedback to our staff. Our complaints/comments are recorded on a Complaints Log/Service Improvements Log and actions taken.

Mystery Shopping Report

We carry out mystery shopping once a year on various business areas within The Dolphin Centre and Eastbourne Sports Complex. Actions from our Mystery Shopping Report are logged on our Service Improvement Log to look at any improvements we can make. 

You Said... We Did

We value customer feedback and continually strive to improve our services.  Any improvements we are able to make is detailed below.

Service Area   You Said We Did
Gym Customers have asked for a larger area for stretching in the gym. We have extended the stretching area, so it is more suitable for customers.
Dolphin Centre Customers have asked for a notice board to be placed near the poolside entrance to inform on any changes to the pool programme. We have added a TV screen to the side of the Changing Village entrance, which displays all relevant pool information for customers. 
Eastbourne Sports Complex Customers have asked us to sell shampoo and shower gel from Reception. Working with Sports Max we now offer a wide variety of dry side merchandise to benefit our customers.
Gym Gym users wanted to see how many moves they were making on the equipment in the gym. A new leader board displaying moves and ranking has been installed into the gym.
South Park Café Customers asked for a better range of ice creams at South Park Café. A wider range of ice creams has been introduced.
Toilets Customers have commented on the heavy use of toilet and changing facilities and on occasions hygiene has fallen short. We have upgraded our contract with our hygiene product provider.  This has meant the introduction of high quality air freshener system, an upgrade on our air sterilisers and the introduction of dual sanitizer units to all urinals and WC's.