Newark Sports and Fitness Centre, Southwell Leisure Centre and Dukeries Leisure Centre given over £100,000 total lifeline funding in Government’s Swimming Pool Support Fund
At-risk swimming pools and leisure centres have today (Saturday) been awarded a share of £20 million of Government funding to keep them afloat.
The Swimming Pool Support Fund was announced in the March Budget to support facilities in response to increased operating costs.
This first £20 million of funding is going to 196 swimming pools and leisure centres most at risk of closure or significant cuts, and will help towards immediate maintenance costs, heating and pool chemicals.
The 196 facilities were chosen based on their risk of closure, the distance to alternative public swimming pools, and the level of demand.
Three centres in the Newark district will benefit — Newark Sports and Fitness Centre (£96,429), Dukeries Leisure Centre, in New Ollerton (£48,532) and Southwell Leisure Centre (£42,578).
In Lincolnshire, Stamford Leisure Pool will receive £91,141, while Grantham Meres Leisure Centre has been awarded the 10th-highest sum of £253,518, and The Castle Sports Centre and Swimming Pool, in Spalding, is to get £29,651.
Operating costs including, but not limited to, heating have increased considerably in recent months, with local authorities facing greater challenges to keep pools open.
Swim England’s latest Value of Swimming report said swimming helps generate social benefits, such as improved communities, skills and education worth £2.4 billion a year.
Sports Minister Stuart Andrew said: “Leisure centres and pools are vital for millions of people to stay fit and healthy, and we know that many public swimming pools are experiencing greater pressure due to increased operating costs.
“We have heard their concerns and have stepped in to help them make ends meet with £20 million immediate relief, and a further £40 million to help improve sustainability of public swimming pools over the long term.”
The funding has been welcomed by five-time British Olympic swimmer Mark Foster.
"From babies and children learning to swim, to older adults using their local pool to get active and socialise, swimming has a huge range of benefits and I am a passionate advocate for investment in the grassroots,” he said.
Executive Director for Place, Sport England, Lisa Dodd-Mayne added: "We know just how vital swimming pools and leisure centres are to our nation’s activity levels, which is why Sport England is proud to have played a central role in the delivery of this fund.
“Many pools have faced a real and significant threat to their survival this year, as operators battle the challenge of increased energy and maintenance costs, weakened reserves and difficulties with retaining staff.
“Today’s announcement is an important moment in time, but is by no means the end of the work facing us or the support available as we continue to work with our partners to ensure the long-term viability of these vital community resources.”
Over the coming months the recipients of a further £40 million will be announced.
This funding will be invested in ways to make pools and leisure centres more energy efficient, such as new heating systems.
The Government recently published its new sport strategy to get 2.5 million more adults and one million more young people meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidance of 150 minutes per week for adults, and 60 minutes per day for young people by 2030.
It also follows the £100 million National Leisure Centre Recovery Fund which has secured the survival and reopening of more than 1,100 swimming pools since 2019, with more than 100 new facilities also being opened.