Barnsley Metrodome: Near future safe after £400,000 grant in face of bills increase
Barnsley Council and Barnsley Premier Leisure (BPL) won a joint bid for £400,000 from phase one of Sport England’s Swimming Pool Support Fund – the highest total in the country.
Leisure Centres across the UK have struggled with increasing energy costs – In 2021 Swim England estimated that 1,868 of the 4,336 public pools in England could be forced to close by 2030.
Three quarters (74 per cent) of council areas are classified as ‘unsecure’, meaning there is a risk of the closure of leisure centres or reduced services before 31 March 2024.
The government announced a £63m national fund to help providers with the increased costs, with the first £20 million earmarked for the swimming pools and leisure centres most at risk of closure or significant service reduction. A further £40m is available in phase two, which is to help improve the energy efficiency of facilities.
Councillor James Higginbottom, cabinet spokesperson for environment and highways, said: “Swimming pools are a crucial community asset which help contribute to physical activity participation rates as well as improving physical and mental health and wellbeing. It’s essential that they remain open and affordable.
“This funding will help to safeguard the future of the Metrodome’s pools, allowing future generations to learn to swim, which is an important life skill, and enjoy the benefits it brings.”
Michael Hirst, chief executive of BPL, added: “We welcome this support from Sport England. It will significantly help BPL offset the formidable increases to our utility bills this year.”
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.”