Council welcomes funding to help meet swimming pool energy costs

Babergh District Council has been awarded funding to help offset increased costs at Hadleigh Pool & Leisure

The successful bid for Sport England Phase 1 Swimming Pool Grants funding was awarded for Hadleigh Pool & Leisure, owned by Babergh District Council and operated by not-for-profit social enterprise Abbeycroft Leisure – however a first-round bid for funding to help the council-owned Kingfisher Leisure Centre in Sudbury was unsuccessful, as well as bids by neighbouring Mid Suffolk District Council for Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre and Stradbroke Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre.

Swimming pools are particularly dependent on energy use, maintaining ambient temperature and heating pool water to the right temperature for leisure use, so inflation and soaring energy bills have put leisure providers under increasing financial pressure.

Cllr Deborah Saw, Babergh District Council cabinet member for people and place said:

“The health and wellbeing of our communities is a priority for our council and we are working hard, in partnership with providers, to keep facilities open despite severe pressure on our budget. We obviously welcome this funding – and hope for further support in the second round for all our pools and leisure centres facing the same challenge, both here in Babergh and in neighbouring Mid Suffolk.”

Warren Smyth, Chief Executive of Abbeycroft Leisure said:

"Soaring energy costs, the impact of Covid and cost living  pressures are putting swimming pools across the country under huge pressure. We have received excellent support from Babergh District Council, but this is a much wider issue and we are very pleased to have received this national award."

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. We continue to work with our partners to ensure the long-term viability of these vital community resources.”

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."

A decision on Sport England Phase 2 Swimming Pool Grants funding is expected next month.

Hadleigh Pool and Leisure