Calderdale Council bids for cash from fund aimed at helping swimming pools stay open

Calderdale Council is bidding from a multi-million pound pot of Government money aimed at helping council stave off swimming pool closures.
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The council is also hoping it will receive cash to help improve energy efficiency at some pools if bids are successful – though the new planned leisure centre at North Bridge in Halifax does not meet the known criteria.

At the council’s cabinet question time, Coun George Robinson (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) raised the issue.

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He said phase two of the Government’s Swimming Pool Support Fund was opening to applications – including the first phase of a £60 million pot of money – and wanted to know if the council would be making bids, and which pools might benefit.

Cllr Jenny LynnCllr Jenny Lynn
Cllr Jenny Lynn

Cabinet member for public services and communities Coun Jenny Lynn (Lab, Park) said a bid had been made for the £20million first phase, made available to support swimming pools facing increased cost pressures which could leave them at risk of closure or reduced services.

“We expect a decision by the end of this month,” she told cabinet colleagues.

“If we are successful, funding agreements will be sent out, with final payments by the end of October.

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“It’s to minimise the closure of public swimming pools within local authority areas. You may notice there has been some publicity recently about the number of public pools which have been lost in the last few years.”

Coun Lynn said the second phase – with £40 million available – was for capital funding to improve energy efficiency of pools in the medium to long-term.

“The full details have not been made available yet but officers are identifying projects that could be included in the bid, subject to further information,” she said.

Coun Lynn added already known criteria was that pools must be part of public provision and must offer public “pay as you go” sessions, with support prioritised in areas of greatest social and economic need.

“The project criteria specifically excludes any inclusion of the project at North Bridge leisure centre but officers are looking at opportunities to bid for funding for our other pools,” she said.