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Gloucestershire Business News

Swimming pools receive £176,000 funding boost

Swimming pools in the Stroud district have received a share of £20 million in central Government funding to help keep them afloat in response to increased operating costs.

Stroud District Council (SDC) has successfully bid for £176,000 from the Swimming Pool Support Fund which will help pay for heating, maintenance and chemicals at its Pulse leisure centre pool in Dursley, and the community-run Wotton Pool in Wotton-under-Edge.

The fund was announced at the March Budget to support facilities with swimming pools. The money will be used to help with the recent rise in energy costs, such as paying towards immediate maintenance costs, heating and pool chemicals.

Operating costs, including but not limited to heating, alongside general inflationary pressure, has increased considerably over recent months. Local authorities are facing greater challenges to make ends meet as a result.

£165,000 has been secured for The Pulse and £11,000 for Wotton Pool. Stratford Park Leisure Centre was not eligible for this fund.

Councillor Beki Aldam, chair of SDC's community services and licensing committee, said: "We know that our leisure services including pools and community-run facilities are valued by our communities. Supporting our residents' health and wellbeing is more important than ever and this funding is very welcome."

John Buist, a trustee of Wotton Pool, said: "Wotton Pool has enjoyed a very busy season but has experienced a doubling of its electricity costs and seen lifeguard pay costs rise significantly in the last two years. These are the two largest costs in the pool's budget.

"The Swimming Pool Support Fund award will help the pool to keep planning for the long term and ensure the much-loved facility continues to be available in future years."

A total of 196 leisure centres and swimming pools in 103 local authorities will benefit from this funding, supporting more than 23 million swims a year collectively.

Sport England's director of place, Lisa Dodd-Mayne, said: "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 local authorities and operators battle the challenge of increased energy and maintenance costs, weakened reserves and difficulties with retaining staff.

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.

"This is part of our support for grassroots sports facilities with more than £400 million in order to achieve our ambitious target of getting 3.5 million more people active by 2030."

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