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22 Sep 2021

Swim England: 2,000 pools in danger of being lost forever
BY Tom Walker

Swim England warns that 'millions of people' could be left without access to a pool

Swim England warns that 'millions of people' could be left without access to a pool
photo: Shutterstock/Nomad_Soul

Swim England has warned that 2,000 swimming pools could be lost forever unless the government and local authorities "act immediately" and invest in replacing or refurbishing ageing facilities.

In a new report published today (A Decade of Decline: The Future of Swimming Pools in England) the industry body outlines how there will be a huge reduction in the amount of water space available by 2030 which will leave "millions of people without access to a pool".

According to Swim England, the looming shortage is the result of a perfect storm.

At the heart of it is an ageing pool stock, mainly constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, which is coming to the end of their lifespan.

While not enough new facilities are being built to replace them, the situation has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report shows that almost a quarter of local authorities (23 per cent) in England have a deficit of at least one average-sized swimming pool.

The report states: "If we continue on the current trend, the number of available pools in England will fall by 40 per cent by the end of the decade – down from the current 4,336 to around 2,468."

Swim England is now backing calls for the Government to commit to investing £1bn into public leisure facilities to help refurbish existing pools – as well as building the new ones needed in the future.

Part of this funding should be used so communities can apply for grants to get design and feasibility studies completed – the costs of which can currently be a barrier to pools being built.

Swim England is also asking local authorities to conduct an analysis of its pool stock to understand if it has the right pools in the right place to meet the needs of the community.

Jane Nickerson, Swim England CEO, said: “Without adequate investment into the new pools this country needs, we are forecasting a huge decline in the available water space by the end of the decade, threatening the future of our sports, leaving millions shut out of the activities they love and widening health inequities.

“This is a very worrying report which could impact on millions of people across the country – and the time to act is now.

“We hope the Government and local authorities will take note and work with us to prevent these concerning predictions from becoming a reality.”

To download the report, called A Decade of Decline: The Future of Swimming Pools in England, click here.



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