We won’t give up in the fight for long-term investment in cherished pools27 May 2021
Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson explains why the battle to secure long-term financial support for cherished facilities goes on.
It’s been just over a week now since our over 18 members were allowed to return to training with their clubs.
The joy of seeing swimmers, divers, water polo players and artistic swimmers doing what they love with their team mates once again – and the huge impact this has had on their mental health – really brings home to us once more how important our clubs are.
It also highlights how important, cherished and valued pools are too.
The coronavirus pandemic put the future of facilities up and down the country in jeopardy.
With your help, we successfully fought for £100 million of financial support for pools as part of the National Leisure Recovery Fund.
We know this made a huge difference in helping pools to reopen their doors – and we’re pleased to confirm 94 per cent of public pools in the country are open for business.
Tip of the iceberg
It has enabled millions of people to get active in the water once again and we thank the Government for that investment and for recognising the importance of aquatic activity.
Investment is very much the right term as we know that investing in swimming pools more than pays for itself.
Pools make a huge contribution to the health of local communities and our research shows that a 25 metre pool can generate £7.2 million social value in community savings – and help save the NHS and social care system more than £1.2 million.
However, the investment in helping pools reopen was just the tip of the iceberg as many facilities still face an uncertain financial future.
The Government’s National Leisure Recovery Fund was designed to help reduce losses up to December 2020.
Sadly, the third lockdown and ongoing restrictions meant that losses continued to grow for a further three-and-a-half months.
A worrying report from the District Councils’ Network which represents local authorities, revealed that one in three councils expect to be forced to close leisure centres forever.
Continue to lobby
That could mean more than 100 centres going bust – some within three months.
We will do everything we can to ensure that does not happen and will continue to lobby the Government for additional investment to help secure the long-term future of pools.
It’s vitally important the Government recognises that by simply providing financial support to help facilities reopen, it’s not a case of job done – far from it.
If the District Councils’ Network’s stark predictions become a reality, it would be a travesty.
So we’re calling on the Government to help protect these facilities that are at the heart of the communities – helping people lead healthier, happier lives and providing access to the water for all our clubs and members across each of our amazing disciplines.
The Government often talks about making people’s health and wellbeing a key part of its pandemic recovery strategy.
Now is the time for it to show that it means what it says and invest in the facilities at the heart of that agenda.
We’re certainly continuing to make the case to the Government – and we won’t be giving up.