The Southern Swimming Pool Board has said that ‘without clear community support and strong political leadership’ there’s a ‘real risk’ the pool will close.

Calling the fact the pool has been left ‘underfunded and undervalued’ for so long ‘unacceptable’, the board argued that the pool in Castletown is fundamental to the wellbeing of people in the south of the island.

It will be closing the pool’s cafe at the end of the current school year and replace snacks and drinks with similar offerings from vending machines.

This closure will affect two members of staff.

‘Following analysis of the different areas of operations it became evident that the cafe had been loss making for some time,’ said the board in a statement. ‘Alternative options were studied and independent opinions sought from other operators in the trade, however, the conclusion was that without considerable investment in a new commercial kitchen the cafe would continue to make significant losses.’

It added: ‘The operational team at the pool has been fundamental in the board’s decision making process and their input has been invaluable.

‘The board recognises that employees have suffered anguish for a considerable time because of factors outside of the board’s control, such as the alternative pool proposed at KWC, which some of the Southern MHKs also support, and the lack of a clear political lead regarding a replacement pool at Castle Rushen High School.

‘The resource and maintenance challenges have affected the pool’s operating hours which are impacting the community users but the board commends the operational management for their continued efforts to minimise disruption.’

The current Southern Swimming Pool Board is made up of a representative from each of the southern local authorities and they were first appointed in August 2021.

It supports the recently announced 12 month all-island pool review in order to identify a long term solution for the southern pool.

When the Southern Pool was formed in the late 1970s, it was done so with a grant from central government representing 75% of the costs and the remaining 25% met by the local authorities.

The previous board had already partly progressed a change in the maximum rate to 6p, rising to a maximum of 8p by 0.1 per annum.

The Department of Education Sport and Culture has offered additional financial support to cover the rise in energy costs for and support for essential one off items this financial year whilst a review is undertaken by DESC.

DESC said: ‘The review will be carried out by UK-based consultants Knight, Kavanagh & Page and start in July – with a report later in the year.

‘It will include the regional pools in Castletown, Peel and Ramsey as well as the pools at Ballakermeen, Glencrutchery Road and the National Sports Centre. All pool boards are invited to contribute to the review.’