SPN (Swimming Pool News) October 2021

Page 39

INDUSTRY FOCUS

Swim England Report Warns Of Pool Closures A concerning new report from Swim England warns almost 2,000 pools could be lost forever by the end of the decade unless the Government and local authorities ‘act now’ to replace or refurbish ageing facilities

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wim England has warned in its new ‘A Decade of Decline: The Future of Swimming Pools in England’ report that there will be a huge reduction in the amount of water space available by 2030, which could threaten the future of aquatic sports in some areas and leave millions shut out of the activities they love. The looming shortage is based on pools which were constructed in the 1960s and 1970s and are coming to the end of their lifespan – while not enough new facilities are being built to replace them. While the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the issue, it is not a direct cause for the dire prediction. However, the report states that ‘if we continue on the current trend, the number of available pools in England will fall by 40% 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 £1 billion 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. The recognised national governing body is also calling on local authorities short of water space to include the provision of new pools in any Levelling Up Funding application they make. Jane Nickerson, Swim England Chief Executive, said: “As we reflect on the amazing achievements of our swimmers, divers, artistic swimmers and para-swimmers this summer in Tokyo, it was heartening to hear so many reflect on the important role their local pool played in their sporting journey. “Swimming pools are naturally essential to the future of all our aquatic sports if we are to nurture the next Adam Peaty, Tom Daley, Anna Hopkin or Maisie Summers-Newton. “However, they are so much more than that.”

A Decade of Decline: The Future of Swimming Pools in England Report 2021

A WORRYING REPORT Showing the value of pools, the report highlighted that every £1 spent on community sport and physical activity generates nearly £4 for the English economy and society. It also says that weekly swimming saves the NHS and social care system more than £357m each year. In addition, the reports states that swimming supports: • Physical wellbeing – with swimmers reporting feeling 12 years younger than non-swimmers • Mental wellbeing – 1.4 million adults feel swimming has significantly reduced their anxiety or depression • Individual development – with women and girls reporting that swimming more than doubled their levels of self confidence • Social and community development – swimmers have been found to be more socially connected and to have more friends than non-swimmers • Volunteering – swimmers are 26.1% more likely to volunteer. Jane continued: “Pools are hubs of the local community, helping people of all ages to lead healthier, happier lives and saving the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds each year. “They are also the places where millions

We hope the Government and local authorities will take note and work with us to prevent these concerning predictions from becoming a reality” www.swimmingpoolnews.co.uk 37_SPN_October+2021_Swim_England.indd 37

learn a skill that could one day save their life – or someone else’s. “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. “The time to act is now.” The report highlights that almost a quarter (23%) of local authorities in England have a deficit of at least one average-sized swimming pool. 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. The governing body has a dedicated facilities team, which provides expert guidance on new and refurbished pool designs and facility management. Jane added: “This is a very worrying report which could impact on millions of people across the country. “We hope the Government and local authorities will take note and work with us to prevent these concerning predictions from becoming a reality.” A Decade of Decline: The Future of Swimming Pools in England is available to download as a PDF direct from the Swim England website. Swim England 01509 640700 www.swimming.org

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