A meeting between elected members has been held in the south of the island concerning the proposed closure of the Southern Swimming Pool in Castletown.

The Department of Education, Sport and Culture (DESC) has made a recommendation to close the pool, and a motion will be put to Tynwald at the end of February to decide its fate.

The decision has been made for ‘financial reasons’, with the department suggesting it would cost around half a million pounds to keep it afloat.

The meeting was held between southern MHKs, MLCs, representatives from local authorities and the Southern Swimming Pool.

Chaired by Rushen MHK Michelle Haywood, the meeting was held to discuss the DESC report into the affordability of regional pools and the subsequent decision by DESC to propose the closure of the Southern Swimming Pool.

Representatives from the Southern Swimming Pool presented the budget that it had submitted to DESC and told the MHKs, MLCs and commissioners that their projected budget didn’t match the one that appeared in the DESC report which had concluded that three regional pools were unaffordable.

A spokesperson from the meeting said: 'The members and commissioners expressed incredulity at the errors in the DESC report.

'The pool board had worked hard to come up with a budget for 2024/25 that required the same subvention as in 23/24, but DESC had concluded that there was a deficit of £220,000 which it deemed unaffordable.

'Commissioners shared the sense of despair and distress felt in their communities at the proposed closure.  They were critical that the DESC plan did not attempt to evaluate the impact of the closure on school swimming lessons, after school swimming, the southern swimming club or the many other users groups who would be affected by the closure.

'There was incredulity that the costs of closure had not been estimated as part of the proposal, as well as general anger and frustration at the lack of any solid commitment by Government to provide a replacement facility at Castle Rushen High School despite years of promises by the DESC. This was coupled with a lack of tangible progress on the school development itself.'

Speaker Juan Watterson, MHK for Rushen, also presented a ‘survival plan’ for the pool based on the subvention staying at the same level as in previous years and using data from the pool’s budget projections.

It was agreed by the local authority members that they would broadly support the survival plan, while they will be taking the information from the meeting back to their respective boards.

Michelle Haywood commented: 'It’s important that rather than just each of us resolving to vote against the DESC proposal, we have something to offer as an alternative.

'It’s vital that the southern MHKs and MLCs work together to support this crucial community asset. I am very grateful for the work that Juan Watterson has done to come up with a viable survival plan and show that the DESC conclusion that there was “no funding scenario where the pool could remain operating” simply wasn’t true.

'I fully recognise the anxiety and distress that has been experienced by the pool board, the pool staff and the whole community, which I believe was totally unnecessary.

'This meeting makes a clear call to the Department to show a can-do attitude to supporting the pool for the next few years until a replacement is ready to go.'