Swimming pools set for schools lifeline

High schools want to take the plunge and save swimming pools from the chop.

Tuesday, 13th December 2016, 8:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 2:07 pm

Heysham High, Carnforth High and the Focus School at Hornby are in talks to take over nearby indoor pools to prevent their closure due to council cuts.

Talks are at an early stage but headteachers are hopeful the pools can be saved.

The three pools are currently run by Lancaster City Council but funding will be withdrawn after April 1 2017.

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John Shannon, headteacher at Heysham High School, said the school was looking into taking over the Heysham facility.

“We recognise what an important part the swimming pool plays for the local community and primary schools, and governors are therefore keen to explore whether it is viable for the school to bring the pool under its community offer,” said Mr Shannon.

“We are committed to doing all that we can to ensure the pool remains open for our community.”

Mr Shannon said Heysham High is working alongside Lancaster City Council, pool owners Lancashire County Council and Sport England on a feasibility study to see if cash can be found for the school to run the pool. Similar talks are under way over the Carnforth and Hornby pools.

A Lancaster City Council report said: “There is, at this stage, a strong commitment and willingness from all partners to try and secure the future of the pools although achieving this outcome won’t be easy and cannot be guaranteed.”

The council may decide to continue to run the pools after April 1 2017 for limited period in order to ensure transfer to the schools.

Councillors will meet for talks on the issue as part of the full council meeting at Morecambe Town Hall tomorrow night (December 14).

The pools cost Lancaster City Council £176,700 to run each year. The council has to find savings of £5.5m over the next four years, blaming a reduction in Government funding for its financial strife.

Labour councillor Darren Clifford, cabinet member for tourism and leisure, said: “It is important that we explore as many avenues as possible which might lead to securing their future.” But Conservatives on Lancaster City Council have accused Labour of “dragging out the process”. Coun Peter Williamson, Conservative leader, said: “It is clear to us the Labour Party is out of its depth.”