Pool closures ‘unfair’ to deprived families

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From: Ratna Lachman, Director, JUST West Yorkshire.

We oppose the closure of Manningham and Rhodesway swimming pools. We consider the decision to be unfair for a number of reasons.

The pools are also widely used by local schools that have a large proportion of pupils from low-income families who are dependent on free school meals.

The financial cost of travelling to the proposed city centre pool being advocated by Bradford Council, will be cost prohibitive.

One of the schools which currently uses the Manningham Pool has estimated that the financial cost of using Shipley pool will be in the region of more than £5,000 per year per class.

The prohibitive costs are likely to result in young people from deprived backgrounds being denied access to swimming sessions.

Critically, it takes away vital financial resources that could be used to enhance educational performance in many of the ward’s schools that are striving to improve their standards.

We consider the council’s decision to call for expressions of interest to run the pool, with a view to transferring the facility out of public ownership, to represent a failure of due process.

The failure of the council to maintain the pool over the years – despite its status as a heritage building – is in marked contrast to the council’s decision to commit £200,000 to the renovation and refurbishment of the Lido in Ilkley, which is the most affluent ward within Bradford.

Likewise, the council’s decision to maintain swimming facilities in other affluent wards, such as Shipley and Bingley, brings into question the basis on which strategic investment decisions for the district’s poorer wards are being made.