Almost 50,000 pledge support to Swim England’s #SaveOurPools campaign16 December 2022
Almost 50,000 people have pledged their support to Swim England’s campaign to #SaveOurPools.
A petition containing 48,928 signatures has been presented to the Government calling on MPs to ‘recognise the particular vulnerability of swimming pools and leisure centres as part of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme Review’.
The petition is backed by Catherine West MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Swimming, who echoed the national governing body’s plea that ‘under threat’ pools receive additional help.
Swim England launched the petition on 25 November and chief executive Jane Nickerson said she was ‘overwhelmed and delighted’ with the response in only 19 days.
The aim was to show the Government how much pools and leisure centres mean to communities across the country in a bid to prevent a ‘dire’ situation from escalating further.
A number of pools have already temporarily closed due to rising energy costs, with others reducing opening hours or water temperature in a bid to reduce costs while bills soar.
Tadcaster Community Swimming Pool, which is run by a charitable trust, was the latest facility to highlight the financial impact the energy crisis is having.
Its electricity bill soared from £3,949 in September to £11,140 in October.
The Government is due to announce its review into the Energy Bill Relief Scheme in the next few days and outline whether it will offer businesses further financial support from next April onwards.
Jane said: “The response to our #SaveOurPools campaign in under three weeks has been overwhelming – it just shows how important swimming pools are to people across the country who recognise their immense value.
“We hope the Government will listen to the nation and offer further help to pools and leisure centres beyond March next year.
“Without that promise of additional financial support, we fear that many more pools will have no option but to close – and it would be an absolute travesty if the Government allowed that to happen.
“We appreciate the economic challenges facing the government but pools and leisure centres are desperately needed by so many to keep them physically and mentally active and manage a range of health conditions.
“Without them, the NHS and social care system will come under even more pressure, costing the public purse much more.
“Additionally it makes financial sense, with every £1 invested in sport and physical activity returning £4 and ill health and inactivity a huge barrier to economic growth.
“It is a sensible option to ensure these vulnerable facilities have the necessary support they need so millions can lead happier, healthier lives and help drive economic growth.”
Ms West added: “I’m delighted to present the petition to the Treasury and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
“The Government shouldn’t ignore the weight of feeling around this issue, which is clearly demonstrated by this petition.
“It’s imperative they extend the Energy Bill Relief Scheme so these much-loved community facilities are able to continue to play the crucial role they do in keeping the country active.”