Swimming pool energy bills rise despite £2m energy efficiency scheme

Richmond Swimming Pool.

A move to change the management of a public swimming pool back to a council has been welcomed as it emerged energy consumption at the facility has soared since £2m of taxpayers’ money was poured into making it more energy efficient.

Austin Gordon, general manager of Richmondshire Leisure Trust, told a North Yorkshire Council meeting there had been a 30 per cent increase in gas and electric consumption at Richmond Swimming Pool last year, coupled with rising costs for the energy, after environmentally-friendly works were completed there.

The boss of the trust, which has been running the facility in Richmond for 19 years, said although there were lots of reasons to be optimistic about attendances at the pool, energy bills were putting “a massive strain” on the service.

Mr Gordon said: “There’s no soft way of putting this unfortunately. Before the capital scheme the consumption of gas and electric was relative to the size and age of the facility very good.

“Since the capital works we’ve done the consumption has increased.”

He said the trust had seen a deficit in the year to the end of March of about £52,000, due to an additional £102,000 on utility consumption.

In 2021, £1.4m of improvements to the 1970s facility was narrowly approved by the Richmondshire District Council chairman’s casting vote, after councillors disagreed over whether all the works were affordable.

The following year the authority’s corporate board approved borrowing £462,000 to cover numerous extra costs to ensure the facility had a long-term future, as well as implementing energy efficiency measures to reduce the carbon footprint of the pool by up to 45 per cent in CO2 and cutting its running costs.

The scheme saw 56 photovoltaic solar panels, new energy plants and an air source heat pump introduced.

No councillor made any comment about the £102,000 of extra energy costs at the pool during the meeting, but Colburn councillor Kevin Foster, who challenged the decision to spend more on green measures in 2022, said he had many questions.

Following the meeting, Coun Foster said there had been a large amount of investment in the facility and welcomed the council’s decision in January to take over the management of the facility from the trust.

Richmond councillor Stuart Parsons added: “It’s absolutely astounding. That investment was intended to reduce the operating costs to a level that were manageable and it would appear somebody has forgotten to switch it on.

“If it’s not a matter of switching it on some people need to be held to account.”

1 Comment

  1. How much longer do all use tax payers have to keep throwing our good money in to this so called amenity which only a very low number of people from Wensleydale and Swaledale actually need or use when there is another swimming pool about two miles down the road.

    I agree with Richmond Councillor Stuart Parsons remarks there should be someone held to account for spending all this amount of Our Tax Payers Money on an energy saving protect that obviously hasn’t worked.

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