Commissioners’ fears about large increase in pool cost
Despite welcoming the decision by Treasury to allow the Department of Education, Sport and Culture (DESC) to secure the short-term future of the regional swimming pools by underwriting the costs until April 2023, the Northern Swimming Pool Board is thinking ahead to next year, when DESC is looking for a vastly increased contribution from the local authorities.
The current rate of 2.5p was first set in 2000 and has remained unchanged for the past 21 years, but the recent hike in energy costs has caused a funding crisis.
As part of the Northern Swimming Pool Board, Ramsey Commissioners’ discussed the matter at their monthly meeting, when Juan McGuinness explained that under DESC’s proposal, Ramsey’s contribution would increase from £17,000 to £41,000 per annum. He commented that although this was a big leap, it was ‘a drop in the pond’ as far as the overall running costs of the pool was concerned.
Leonard Singer commented that it may well be a ‘drop in the pond’ in the overall context, but Ramsey rates were already high and this would take them even higher.
Luke Parker felt that financial support of the regional pools should be wholly centralised: ‘I think we should be fighting this increase,’ he said. ‘It’s owned and manned by government. If we said ‘no’ to this proposal I don’t think the pool would close.’
Lamara Craine agreed with Mr Parker, saying that DESC had ‘messed up’ and the problem was self-imposed.
Her proposal that the rate remain at 2.5p was seconded by Wilf Young and approved by the whole board, whose views will be forwarded to the government department consulting on the proposed changes.
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