A new community fund raising initiatives group is to be set up to help Settle Area Swimming Pool tackle its serious financial crisis. The picture above shows Chair of Trustees Colin Coleman (left) and Secretary Ian Orton addressing a packed room of pool supporters.
The move came out of the open evening on pool finances held on January 24 that was attended by well over a hundred pool supporters.
The new group will consist mainly of volunteers whose task is both to come up with new ideas and implement some of the suggestions made at the open evening.
They will work closely with the pool trustees and aim to build on the many initiatives already in place. Supporters wishing to join the group, who have not already been in touch with Elaine Owen, should send their contact details to the secretary or leave a note at pool reception, or either of the two pool charity shops .
Pool chair Colin Coleman told the event that Settle pool was not alone in facing severe financial problems. He cited a recent Swim England report that showed that hundreds of public pools across England had closed in the past few years and predicted that many more would follow over the next decade.
Those attending the event were told the pool was currently loosing £10,000 a month. Much of this was due to a gas bill of around £6,000. The pool was in long-term contract with the Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation, the public sector procurement group that provides services to many organisations including schools and colleges. Whilst this had initially been very beneficial, prices were now well above the market rate. Despite efforts to get out of the contract, including the intervention of MP Julian Smith, it had proved impossible to do so before April 2025. Prices were expected to fall substantially in the spring when usage would also go down. But this alone would not cover the monthly deficit which would continue to eat into the reserves currently standing at around £75,000.
A range of measures has already been taken to increase income and cut costs. Following a health and safety inspection changes had been made to lifeguard coverage; the timetable had been revised to cut out badly attended sessions and increase the availability of the most popular ones. Plans were in hand for a promotional leaflet, financed by the Settle Stingrays group, to go to all households in the area via Royal Mail. A new membership scheme had been introduced to benefit regular users as well as increase predictable income. In the longer term the possibility of establishing and charging for a campervan park was being examined with Yorkshire Council – such a scheme had proved a major money maker for a comparable Scottish pool.
Usage of the pool and related fitSpace sessions had grown greatly over the past year but the greatest help that local people could give the pool was to make sure they, their families and neighbours used the pool more often.
Overall there were 24 contributions from those attending the event . These were summarised by secretary Ian Orton as follows:
1. Social media: The pool should make more use of social media and two people offered to help with managing Facebook etc.
2. Questions were asked about the reclaiming of VAT and VAT-able expenditure. The Treasurer responded.
3. A suggestion that the Pool Flyer could go out with Community News rather than Royal Mail. It was explained that Royal Mail covered every home in the catchment area of the pool.
4. Details were asked of the monthly deficit and the Treasurer explained it was around £10,000 a month and the way to close it was more users and reduce expenditure.
5. More details were requested about the duration of the deficit.
6. A request to remove time-restricted swim sessions was made
7. A suggestion was made to re-introduce The Friends of the Pool.
8. A question was raised about balances held by the pool. The Treasurer explained a Charity needed to hold around three months expenditure.
9. Details were shared of a levy being raised at a similar pool to Settle for car parking charges etc to generate revenue.
10. Several people spoke about charging for camper van parking and it was noted this suggestion was being investigated with North Yorkshire Council.
11. As the cost of gas heating is so high suggestions were made about reducing the temperature of the water. A response included comments about minimum temperatures etc for babies and older swimmers.
12. A request was made about how to regularly donate money to the pool. Booking forms for standing orders are available at pool reception and on the website here https://www.settleswimmingpool.co.uk/donate/
13. A mention was made of Patrons of Bradford Jazz Club and how the pool could recruit patrons.
14. One of the original founders of the pool spoke about the importance of the pool. She suggested income from camper vans should be chased up, and partnering with Settle United Junior Football who regularly use the car park during term time.
15. It was suggested there should be more publicity about the ability to donate to the pool.
16. A member of pool staff spoke about the loss of the pool would result in many young people not learning to swim and how a sponsored swim would bring in additional funds.
17. A local energy contractor spoke about energy audits and offered to help the pool with this process using his expertise.
18. Trustees offered to coordinate a fund raising group and requested volunteer help.
19. Questions were asked about the duration of and charges for the gas contract. The Treasurer explained the background to the gas contract with YPO and the unsuccessful efforts to get out of the contract before the end date of April 2025.
20. It was suggested that a Honesty Box in the car park might help with donations. The Secretary indicated he would approach North Yorkshire Council.
21. Comments were raised about Facebook and Trustees gave details of the history of the use of FB.
22. The Trustees were thanked for all their hard unpaid work.
23. A member of the Dragon Boat Team asked for more paddlers for the race on 12th May raising funds for the pool. The Secretary to circulate details.
24. Cllr David Staveley gave an update on the way North Yorkshire Council was helping the pool but pointed out these are challenging times.