Swim pool entry costs set to go up

COST INCREASE: The Northern Swimming Pool Board fears it may have to put up admission costs or possibly close at weekends

COST INCREASE: The Northern Swimming Pool Board fears it may have to put up admission costs or possibly close at weekends

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THE cost of admission to Ramsey Swimming Pool could go up from April 1 if no other way of reducing expenditure can be found.

The Northern Local Authorities Swimming Pool Board has been looking at ways to cut its outgoings by 10 per cent in the coming year, as requested by the Department of Community, Culture and Leisure.

Board chairman John Wormald said the only other alternative they had identified was that of closing the pool at weekends, when staffing levels are most expensive.

Admission costs are: adults £3 per session; senior citizens and children £2; adult lunchtime session £2.50. Sessions can vary in time.

The £5.8million northern pool and cafe opened in 2008. As well as being a public facility, it is used by the nine local schools and various swimming clubs. It employs 22 full and part-time staff, most of whom are poolside life guards. Wages account for over a quarter of expenditure. Loan repayments, which are beyond the board’s control, account for almost 50 per cent. Fuel, electricity, insurance, rates and maintenance account for the remaining quarter.

New health and safety requirements add a further £8,500 per annum to costs.

The board is writing to director of community culture and leisure Mike Ball asking for special consideration on grounds it is a new facility with new challenges for the board, for which the current financial year (2010/11) is its first full accounting year. The board also pointed out that the deficiency for the old pool in its final year (2007/8) stood at £300,000 (this did not cover any loan repayments, accounting/audit fees and health and safety costs now being experienced). The new pool’s real operating costs had significantly reduced by approximately 25 per cent when compared with four years ago.

The board considered it had addressed all budgetary aspects to the best of its ability and within imposed constraints and therefore looked to the department for any assistance or suggestions that might help them through ‘this difficult situation’.

‘We therefore request your assistance as above and suggest that you look favourably at the board’s unique position and agree the higher deficiency payment of £657,500 required to enable the pool to continue to operate successfully in its identifiable role within the community’, it states.

Mr Wormald told the Examiner: ‘There’s not a lot more we can do. We’re down to our bare bones. It boils down to closing at weekends, reducing the time of sessions or increasing admission prices. We are hoping the department will accept our pleas.’

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