Six GLL leisure centres in Cornwall have received a total of £449,168 from Sport England’s Swimming Pool Support Fund, to cover increased running costs in this current financial year. The successful centres, are Bodmin Leisure Centre, St Ives Leisure Centre, Helston Sports Centre, Liskeard Leisure Centre, Newquay Leisure World and Saltash Leisure Centre.
196 leisure centres throughout England have been awarded a share of the £20m central government funding available to help keep their swimming pools viable.
Bids were submitted through local authorities and Sport England made the final decision based on the strength of the applications against some key assessment criteria.
“The cost of running swimming pools has increased hugely since the start of 2022, with the GLL Centres in Cornwall seeing full year gas and electricity costs increasing by about £700,000,” said James Curry, GLL’s Head of Service in Cornwall. “This award will help cover some of these costs for this financial year. We’re delighted that six of our Cornish centres have been successful and will continue doing all we can to operate as sustainably as possible.
“We’ve made no secret of the fact that significantly higher costs pose a real challenge to our industry and responsible housekeeping is as essential for us as it is for everyone else.
“The temporary winter closure of our Newquay Leisure Pool was recently announced as part of that efficiency approach. Since we’ve got a second swimming pool at the same venue, it simply wasn’t sensible to be running them both during the winter months when customer footfall is so much lower and we can deliver our winter swimming programme in the one swimming pool.
“Swimming is a vital life skill, with many physical and mental health benefits. That’s why this first tranche of government swimming pool funding is so important and why we’re very grateful for the assistance it provides. With energy costs remaining volatile and significantly higher than 2021, there is no doubt the energy cost challenge for our sector will continue well in to 2024.”
Operating under the Better brand, GLL is a not-for-profit social enterprise that runs nine leisure centres on behalf of Cornwall Council.
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.
“This announcement is an important moment in time but is by no means the end of the work facing us or the support available as we continue to work with our partners to ensure the long-term viability of these vital community resources.”