I’m delighted Wyre Council has announced the gym at Fleetwood will reopen on 3 August followed by classes from 5 August. I remain concerned however that there is no opening date for the pool.
Wyre Council says swimming pools and other services are not reopening at this stage. “As well as safety concerns, having to limit the numbers of swimmers due to social distancing and the practicalities of limited changing room space, it has been decided that pools and further activities will reopen when viable. “
This is very disappointing given the Government announced all indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities can reopen from 25 July. According to experts, some pools will never reopen: its estimated around 500 UK pools will have to shut for good as a result of financial problems caused by the lockdown – I hope Fleetwood isn’t one of them.
This week I was contacted by one of our most successful Paralympians, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. She got in touch to express her concern over the threat to Fleetwood’s swimming pool closing. She told me there is a risk of permanently losing 48% of the nation’s public leisure facilities by Christmas,
“Since 20 March, the physical activity sector has faced a crippling combination of zero income, outstanding rent payments, failed insurance claims and delayed furloughing funds,” Tanni told me.
“Public leisure providers, have continuously fallen between the gaps of Government support programmes. In total just under half of the nation’s public leisure operators are now at risk of becoming financially non-viable or insecure over the next six months, jeopardising 1300 facilities, and more than 58,000 jobs. Given reports that many councils could go bankrupt due to the financial pressures of COVID-19 – non statutory services such as public leisure are at particular risk.”
Whilst the reopening of gyms is good news, my focus is on the hundreds of children who rely on the pool in Fleetwood to learn life saving skills and to learn to swim – as well as those who depend on the pool for exercise they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. This fight isn’t over.