Shropshire Star

£115,000 grant proposal for swimming pool to help deal with rising energy costs

A grant of up to £115k has been proposed to help with rising energy costs at a town swimming pool at risk of closing down.

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Tenbury Pool. Photo: Google

In October the trustees of Tenbury Swimming Pool, in Tenbury Wells near the South Shropshire border, warned it could be forced to close by inflation and rising energy bills.

The grant proposal, along with suggestions for additional capital works, will be put forward to executive committee at Malvern Hills District Council (MHDC) on Tuesday, January 24.

Capital works include solar panels, double glazing and replacement boilers. The improvements are estimated to deliver energy savings of over 40,000kWh pa, over 10 tonnes of Co2 pa and a financial saving of £25,000.

The leisure pool is owned by Tenbury Community Pool Ltd (TCP) and operated by Freedom Leisure.

TCP has no direct source of regular income and is wholly reliant on an annual council grant, along with other external grants and fundraising initiatives.

In 2020, TCP completed a £450,000 refurbishment and extension project supported by the council with a Section 106 grant of £200,000, a Sport England grant of £50,000, and £200,000 from other multiple sources.

The refurbishment enabled Freedom Leisure to drive up the levels of participation in swimming and fitness-based activities by 64 per cent and drive down electricity usage by 22 per cent and gas usage by 67 per cent, compared to pre-Covid levels.

To reduce the impact of rising costs, Freedom Leisure has introduced a series of operational measures at Tenbury Swimming Pool including new pool covers, reducing water and air temperatures, and turning off equipment during off peak times.

The pool plays a critical role in helping to deliver the council’s priority: “To promote health, fitness and wellbeing through community outreach programmes and support for leisure centres, with 1.5m visits in the plan period”.

Last October, the Executive Committee agreed to accept a reduction in the council’s management fee from Freedom Leisure for 2022/23 to help keep Malvern Splash, Sport Dyson Perrins, and Sport Martley leisure centres running amidst rising energy costs.

Councillor Tom Wells, Portfolio Holder for community services at Malvern Hills District Council, said: “As reported to committee in October, the leisure industry is being adversely and disproportionately affected by the rise in energy costs, and the impact of the energy crisis on Tenbury Pool has been significant. This grant would not only help ease the pressures of rising energy costs, but also help to ensure the facility is fit for purpose and financially viable for years to come.”

Adrian Taylor, chairman of Tenbury Community Pool, said: “TCP’s long-term vision of working towards a greener and economically secure future for the facility in Tenbury is highlighted by the immediate need to reduce the costs of operating the Tenbury community pool in the current economic climate due to high utility requirements.

"With the support of the local community and a grant from MHDC, the residents of Tenbury and its wider community will benefit physically, mentally, and socially in a modern, fully inclusive and energy efficient leisure facility for many years to come."