SETTLE POOL FACING FINANCIAL CRISIS20 Nov 2023
Settle Swimming Pool is facing a major financial crisis after it was denied funding from the £20 million the government set aside to help public swimming pools across England cope with what it called ‘challenging financial pressures’.
Whilst 196 pools received grants of as much as £300,000 in some cases, none of the 18 pools in North Yorkshire received any contribution.
In the absence of this public funding, Settle pool is now having to take drastic measures in order to keep afloat.
Full details of all new prices will be published on our website shortly. In a move to help regular users, a long term membership scheme is being introduced. This will give reduced rates for both swimming and fitspace sessions and a combination of both.
Trustees have also agreed to take urgent action to reduce staffing costs and other expenditure.
In a further move pool users and supporters are being asked to make regular individual donations to help ensure the pool can continue to function.
Longer term measures are also under consideration.
One of the reasons that Settle pool has, to date, coped better than some others has been the income from the charity shop, that has generated around £70,000 a year since it opened in 2017. But this is no longer adequate to cope with rising costs, most significantly a gas bill that has gone up from just over £1,000 a month to around £7,000. In an effort to raise income from this source the trustees are seeking further volunteers to help staff a second ‘pop-up ‘ shop that recently opened in the centre of Settle. As shop organiser Anne Galloway, who was recently named North Yorkshire volunteer of the year said: “We are getting plenty of donations, including some high value items, but we need more volunteers to help with sales, both on line and through our shops.”
Behind all these action there is frustration with the lack of support from government and Sport England.
As pool treasurer Rosie Sanderson explained to the November meeting of the trustees, “When the pool was facing financial difficulties a few years ago it was Sport England that told us the only way to go was to undertake a major expansion, including a new dry area. We followed their advice and have coped with unforeseen challenges as Covid and storm damage leading to temporary closure, but now when we need urgently help we are denied support.”
Settle will be seeking an explanation from Sport England about why they were denied aid from the Swimming Pool Support Fund despite appearing to meet the three criteria set out in the press release announcing the grants from the scheme.
Sport England said pools and leisure centres were selected “based on their risk of closure, the proximity to other swimming pools providing public swimming, and the level of demand for the facility.”
Settle Pool chair Colin Coleman said: “There is only one other public pool within twenty miles of Settle. We offer a wide range of sessions for all ages as well as public swimming and school swimming and it is now clear that without urgent action there is a real danger that the pool will have to close. It makes no sense for us to be denied funding when pools closer to other facilities, offering fewer services and operating in less challenging environments have been given substantial amounts of public funding. We want to know why.”