Nearly £150,000 of government funding has been secured to help with the day-to-day running of the Oval Leisure Centre’s swimming pool.
The council successfully bid for the money as part of the first round of funding from the Government’s Swimming Pool Support Fund.
The funding is intended to offset some of the 2023/4 cost increases and operational costs at the Oval including energy, water, swimming pool chemicals and cleaning supplies.
The government’s Swimming Pool Support Fund (SPSF) will provide a total of £60 million to local authorities in England as a support package for public leisure facilities with swimming pools over the next few months. The fund is split into two phases:
- Phase 1 – Revenue: £20m is available to support facilities with swimming pools with increased cost pressures, leaving them most vulnerable to closure or significant service reduction
- Phase 2 – Capital: £40m is available for capital investment to improve the energy efficiency of public facilities with pools in the medium to long term
Cllr Helen Cameron, Chair of Tourism, Communities, Culture and Leisure Committee for Wirral Council, said, “Swimming is a valuable life skill for people of all ages, important for safety as well as both physical and mental health and wellbeing.
“This funding will enable us to operate The Oval’s swimming pool at a time when it is becoming increasingly more expensive to run.
“While The Oval was not the only pool that our officers bid for, it’s great news that they’ve been successful in bringing some of this funding to Wirral.
“They have also submitted proposals for the next phase of the bid, so I’m hopeful we’ll see more funding coming to our borough to further improve the efficiency of our swimming facilities.”
The fund is being managed by Sport England on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Lisa Dodd-Mayne, Sport England’s Director of Place, said, “We know just how vital swimming pools and leisure centres are to our nation’s activity levels, which is why Sport England is proud to have played a central role in the delivery of this fund.
“Many pools have faced a real and significant threat to their survival this year, as local authorities and operators battle the challenge of increased energy and maintenance costs, weakened reserves and difficulties with retaining staff.
“[This funding] announcement is an important moment in time, but is by no means the end of the work facing us or the support available as we continue to work with our partners to ensure the long-term viability of these vital community resources.”
Swim England’s latest Value of Swimming report showed how water-based activity, such as swimming, helps generate social value of £2.4 billion a year.