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Government looking at what financial interventions needed to help pools reopen

The Government has confirmed it is looking at how it can help local authorities reopen swimming pools at risk of permanent closure.

It is feared up to 10 per cent of pools across the country will not reopen when given the green light to do so by the Government due to financial difficulties.

Loughborough MP Jane Hunt raised the issue with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in a parliamentary question.

She asked the Secretary of State what assessment his department has made of the social value of swimming pools for local communities and what steps is he taking to support swimming pools affected by the Covid-19 lockdown.

In a written response, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said they were looking at what financial help is needed to open these ‘important public assets’.

He wrote: “The Covid-19 pandemic has placed enormous pressures on local authorities and the Government’s furlough scheme has assisted swimming pool operators during the lockdown phase.

“Consideration is being given to how we can help local authorities open these important public assets particularly in areas where there is most need.

“Government departments are working with Sport England and other sector bodies to identify the economic and social impact and look at what financial interventions are needed to ensure that pools which deliver so many health benefits for our communities can reopen.”

Reopening date as soon as possible

Mr Huddleston also responded to a question about pools reopening from North East Hertfordshire MP Sir Oliver Heald, who asked what the timetable is to make swimming pools Covid-19 secure so they can reopen

“We recognise the importance of reopening our indoor and outdoor pools and we agree that swimming is a great way for people of all ages to stay fit and healthy,” said Mr Huddleston.

“The Sport Working Group, led by myself, feeds into the Secretary of State’s Cultural Renewal Taskforce and ensures strong sector and expert support for the co-development of guidelines and will help leisure facilities become Covid-secure and reopen as early as possible in July.

“The Government is actively working towards a safe way to reopen these facilities, with supporting guidance.”

Jane Nickerson, Swim England Chief Executive, welcomed the latest Government response and reiterated her plea for a pools reopening announcement date to be confirmed sooner rather than later.

She said: “Based on the Prime Minister’s comments last week, we are hopeful that he can give the sector a reopening date as soon as possible.

“It’s is good to hear that the Government has recognised the predicament many operators face when it comes to reopening pools and are looking at ways to support them.

“The Chancellor will make his summer update speech tomorrow and it would be the perfect opportunity for him to announce financial support for swimming pools and leisure facilities.

“If he doesn’t, we will keep lobbying for additional financial help to ensure communities continue to have the swimming pools they have desperately missed.”

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