Shropshire Star

Welsh Government urged to match Budget's support for swimming pools

The Welsh Government has been urged to match the UK Government’s support for swimming pools after centres in England were provided with an extra £180m in the Budget.

Montgomeryshire MS Russell George

Welsh Conservative MP Craig Williams and Russell George, MS for Montgomeryshire made the call after the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt announced £60m of funding will be provided for a Swimming Pool Support Fund, helping with immediate cost-pressures faced by the leisure industry.

The fund will also provide investment into energy efficiency measures to reform facilitiesbut is for England only, as sport and leisure facilities in Wales are devolved to the Welsh Government.

Mr Williams MP said: "I am very pleased that the Chancellor and the UK Government have been proactive in giving urgent support to swimming pools within England, to help with the immediate cost-pressures the industry is currently facing.

“We all know the difficulties that leisure centres have faced over recent months with rising energy prices. The threat of possible closures would be seriously damaging to local communities, and it is therefore vital that leisure facilities are protected and supported.

“I have been in continual contact with leisure providers and Powys County Council regarding the difficulties leisure centres across Montgomeryshire are currently facing, and it is absolutely clear that they would benefit massively from similar support being provided in Wales. I therefore call for the Welsh Government to match the UK Government’s investment, using the £180m uplift that has been provided to them by the Chancellor.”

Mr George MS added: “The Welsh Government have no excuse now but to help councils keep much-valued leisure centres open for local people here in Mid Wales.

“Now that the UK Government has made this funding available in England, I have called on Welsh ministers to use the consequentials from the new money being spent in England to replicate this welcome support here in Wales.

“People were rightfully furious when just a few months ago, Powys County Council announced, with no consultation, that they would close facilities and swimming pools, including Llanidloes, Llanfyllin, and Llanfair Caereinion.

“The Welsh Government have the funding available to them – we now wait to see if it will make the same commitment to protect our local leisure centres and swimming pools.”

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