Swimming pools: Concern as closures across the UK revealed

Swimmers across the UK have lost access to more than 60 public pools in the last three years, BBC News has found.

Freedom of Information requests to UK councils revealed 65 pools had closed, either temporarily or permanently, in the three years to March 2022.

Ukactive said a lack of staff, rising energy costs and chemical shortages had created a “perfect storm” for centres.

Greg Whyte, a board member at the organisation, said the closures were an “absolute health and welfare disaster”.

Ukactive, which represents gyms and leisure centres, said centres had only just started to recover following closures during the Covid-19 pandemic. It warned there was a risk of more permanent closures before the end of the year.

The BBC found about one in six local authorities had lost at least one pool on a permanent or temporary basis, as of March 2022.

Some of them had been closed for good, while others are closed for refurbishment with no fixed reopening date. Others are now only accessible for private hire or swimming clubs.

Pools in Essex, Bedfordshire and Staffordshire have all blamed chlorine shortages for their recent closures.

The West Midlands and Scotland saw the most closures, with eight each. But the West Midlands was hardest hit compared with the overall number of pools available in 2019.

In the West Midlands, the region saw the number of pools fall from 105 to 97, while in Scotland it decreased from 219 to 211.

At the time of the responses – from 360 local authorities out of 374 across the UK – some 1,335 publicly-funded pools were open.

Olympic and Commonwealth champion Adam Peaty has been vocal in asking for more government support to keep pools open – especially for children.

He told the BBC: “The government really needs to work harder to get [to] these kids and give them accessibility”.

  • Original Article: BBC News
  • Date: August 2022