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Continued closure of pools ‘a catastrophe for health and wellbeing of the nation’

Swim England has warned a prediction that hundreds of local authority owned pools will stay shut following the second national lockdown is a ‘catastrophe for the health and wellbeing of the nation’.

Pools in England have been given the green light to reopen in all tiers from today.

Yet around 200 pools owned by councils across the country will remain closed, according to new research from Swim England.

It will mean the equivalent of half a million people who swam regularly before the coronavirus pandemic will not have access to their local authority owned pool.

The recognised national governing body is now calling for the Government to invest more to help support ‘much-loved’ pools which have not reopened and those struggling to ensure they have a long-term future.

While the Government has announced an initial £100 million fund to support leisure centres, Jane warned the financial difficulties facing facilities ‘has not gone away’.

She said: “While it’s extremely positive that millions of swimmers up and down the country can return to the activity they love today following the second national lockdown, it’s unacceptable to even think that so many people or clubs will not have a much-loved swimming pool to visit.

“It’s imperative that the Government and local authorities look at this issue and prevent it from becoming a catastrophe for the health and wellbeing of the nation.

“Aquatic activity can help save the NHS and social care system hundreds of millions of pounds every year so it makes no sense to keep these facilities closed for another prolonged period of time when they can open their doors again.

“Despite our efforts to successfully secure £100 million of Government investment for leisure centres, the financial pressures facing too many of our swimming facilities has not gone away.

Long-term challenge

“Any financial support would be saved many times over as people won’t be piling on extra pressure on the NHS and social care system to treat a variety of conditions aquatic activity has proven to help.

“We must not lose sight of the long-term challenge for swimming pools and the sector. Investing in swimming will help local economies, support the NHS and improve the nation’s physical and mental health in every corner of the country.”

Jane also warned that continued closures would lead to a generation of youngsters not being able to learn how to swim as well as clubs not having the pools to help unearth the next Olympic champions.

“Our clubs and athletes have endured a frustrating year of missing out on taking part in the sports they love,” said Jane. “While youngsters are missing out on learning a vital life skill.

“Whilst the long term future of many of the pools that have not opened are still unknown, we know that some of the pools been mothballed for the foreseeable future and some of these will sadly never reopen.

“We’ll continue to fight on behalf of everyone who enjoys aquatic activity and get the necessary financial support for pools so they remain highly-valued community hubs for years to come.”

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