Richmond Swimming Pool gets usage boost ahead of makeover

Richmond Swimming Pool.

Richmond Swimming Pool has seen a big increase in use ahead of major improvements work.

But trust bosses say rising inflation and the sharp rise in energy costs have created a new set of challenges for the facility.

The pool will close in August for up to four months for improvements which will cost more than £1.4m.

The work will include renewing the building’s roof coverings, acid cleaning and repairs of existing stonework, introducing 56 photovoltaic solar panels on south east aspect of the roof and an air source heat pump.

Ahead of the closure, Austin Gordon, Richmondshire Leisure Trusts (RLT) general manager, said that school swimming numbers were 30 per cent higher than before the pandemic, with swim academy numbers 18 per cent higher when compared to pre-pandemic levels.

He said this equated to more than 700 lessons being delivered every week at the pool, with the trust delivering 600,000 swimming lessons since the taking over the running of the swimming pool in 2005 from the district council.

The venue has also seen recent increases in activities such as aquafit, with additional classes being put on to meet the growing demand.

Richmond Dales Swimming Club, which uses the pool, has also seen a rise in membership from 90 before covid to 144, now.

In a further boost for the pool, Richmond Tri Club recently held its annual regional triathlon at the pool with 210 participants taking part.

But Mr Gordon said that while these upward trends were encouraging, however they were seeing rapidly rising operating costs.

The manager said it was estimated that utility costs would rise by 150 per cent this year and swimming pools were big users of gas and electric.

“If these predications were correct then the cost of heating and lighting Richmond Swimming Pool will soar from its current level of £60,000 annually to £150,000 annually and with general inflation currently running at nine per cent other operating costs will increase by around £45,000.

“This additional cost of around £135,000 in the current year will provide some real challenges so the recent increase in the revenue grant provided by Richmondshire District Council of £50,000 will help narrow this gap, with the trust finding the rest.”

Mr Gordon said the revenue grant that RLT received from the district council was cut by £60,000 in April 2011, with a further reduction of £40,000 in April 2012 with the level of grant remaining at this level without inflationary increases until last week when the RDC corporate board agreed to the £50,000 increase.

“Following the reductions in revenue grants in 2011 and 2012, RLT made savings and increased usage levels in order to maintain the services.

“The leisure trust has, over the last ten years been successful in attracting 29 grants to a value of over £300,000 to directly support the its work.

“As part of its community sports development work RLT has also supported many local sports clubs and organisations with funding support, marketing assistance along with specialist support through completing annual accounts.”

Mr Gordon said many pool operators were naturally worried about the future as costs soar at the same time as disposable incomes reduce which may lead to a drop in revenue.

He said UK Active and CIMPSPA, the chartered institute for the management of sports and physical activity had written to the Government urging them to provide additional ring fenced support for public swimming pools.

The letter states that without direct central government intervention 85 per cent of public leisure centres may be forced to close within 12 months

“These figures are of great concern as especially since Covid there has been wide acknowledgment that community leisure facilities play a vital role in maintaining healthy bodies and minds,” Mr Gordon added.

1 Comment

  1. From what I’ve read in the press about improvements and renovations at the swimming pool, I haven’t seen any mention of upgrading the changing room which is desperately in need of renovation.

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