THE boss of Herefordshire's leisure centres has highlighted the plight of pools across the country as it's revealed half face shutdown or service blows because of record-high energy costs.

Leisure leaders across the Midlands have said the Government must intervene to stop crippling energy costs causing a tide of swimming pool closures. In Herefordshire, Halo Leisure's boss has said pools face "very real danger over their future".

They have spoken as new figures revealed that up to half of community pools across the UK face closure or service cuts within six months unless ministers step in to help with energy costs.


Scott Rolfe, chief executive of Leominster-based Halo Leisure which runs swimming pools across Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Bridgend, Wiltshire and Shropshire, said centres face "unparalleled challenges".

He said: “Big Swim Day is the perfect opportunity to highlight the importance of local community swimming pools and the pivotal role they play for the benefit of local communities.

“Now, more than ever, they are facing unparalleled challenges as they aim to cope with soaring gas and electricity costs which, for many pools, make them unsustainable and present a very real danger for their future."

Leisure centres have already tried to cut down on water usage, upped fees for users and cut back sauna and steam room opening times.

“Without crucial government support these swimming pools face a real challenge," he added.

It was a plight being highlighted as part of Big Swim Day last Friday (February 24), with people across the region urged to show their support by visiting local venues and calling on politicians to take action.


The action is being organised by Community Leisure UK (CLUK), the industry body representing the operators of 880 pools across England, Scotland and Wales.

Its members - all charities - have shared the scale of closure and cuts threats as they brace themselves for the ending of Government energy support, on top of the unprecedented pressures already caused by skyrocketing power prices.

They will be exposed to the full force of record gas and electricity costs after the UK Government decided not to continue classifying swimming pools as vulnerable from April 1 - a decision CLUK members want to see reversed.

Mark Clews, chair of Kidsgrove Sports Centre Community Group in Kidsgrove, Staffordshire, said it has no financial support from the local authority and bills were now about 350 per cent higher than when it first modelled its business plan.

The centre was in "survival mode", he said.

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CLUK, whose members employ 17,000 people at community swimming pools, had written to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt calling on him to designate leisure and cultural charitable trusts as a Vulnerable Sector as part of the UK Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme. But it was not included in the updated list of eligible sectors.

Leisure leaders say they are particularly vulnerable because of their high energy bills to heat water and the ambient environment.

Phil Rumbelow, Chair of CLUK, said: “Without continued Government support, our members tell us that up to half of their pools could close or face service cuts. They simply will not be able to afford to run them fully - if at all.

“That could mean hundreds of communities being robbed of a pool - potentially putting thousands of jobs in jeopardy. Allowing that to happen would be a national disgrace."

CLUK said pool closures would not only block a route to better public health, but cause an irreparable blow to elite sporting development, losing medal-winners of the future.