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Over £440,000 awarded to support swimming pools in South and Vale

Swimming pools across South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse have been awarded a total of £441,542.

The award will help ensure residents continue to have access to good swimming facilities across the two districts.

Recent research has shown swimming positively contributes to physical and mental wellbeing, to individual and community development, and helps to reduce the burden to the health and social care system. *

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils successfully secured this funding through Sport England to help finance the running of six of its Better UK swimming facilities. The funding is part of the government’s Phase 1: Swimming Pool Support Fund (SPSF).

Day to day the centres are managed by the council’s leisure contractor GLL. There has been huge increase in costs to manage the pools over the last few years due to the rising energy costs and other financial pressures because of the Covid-19 pandemic and GLL will use this additional revenue to help finance the maintenance of the indoor swimming pools at leisure centres in South Oxfordshire and the Vale.

Cllr Debra Dewhurst Cabinet Member for Leisure Centres and Community Buildings at Vale of White Horse District Council said: “We are so please to have been awarded this funding from Sport England as it will help us to continue to maintain and run the swimming facilities across the Vale.

“Our swimming pools are very popular and it’s important that we do all we can to keep them open and available to use for the health and wellbeing of residents and visitors to the area.”

Cllr Maggie Filipova-Rivers Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing at South Oxfordshire District Councils said: “The rise in energy costs has had a huge impact on our budgets for the leisure centres. We are proud to have retained this important service at a time that many around the country are closing.

“I would like to thank our dedicated officers that have worked hard to secure this much needed funding to enable us, in partnership with GLL, to help our leisure centres to continue to recover and to make sure that the pools are there for our residents to use whether it’s for fitness or for fun!”

A total of £20 million was available for organisations to apply for in Phase 1 of the Swimming Pool Support Fund from Sport England and nearly 200 leisure centres have been supported by the fund.

Applicants were required to provide evidence of increased cost pressures, leaving them most vulnerable to closure or significant service reduction.

South Oxfordshire Better UK swimming pools have been awarded £285,465 and £156,077 will be going to the Vale of White Horse facilities.

Kevin Williams, GLL Partnership Manager for South Oxfordshire and Vale of the White Horse said: “Swimming pool operators across the UK have been the victims of a ‘perfect storm’ with spiralling utility costs, global chlorine shortages and the aftereffects of the Covid pandemic, combining to create significant financial pressures. Some pools have been forced to close. 

“The funding that has been awarded to six pools across South Oxfordshire and Vale of the White Horse is a huge boost and will help secure their future. It’ll mean residents will be able to continue to enjoy the numerous health and social benefits that swimming and pool-based activities offer.”

The councils are now in the process of applying for funding for the Phase 2 of the Swimming Pool Support Fund which will be used to improve the energy efficiency of its Better Leisure facilities across the two districts.

Notes to Editors

The Swimming Pool Support Fund has been allocated to the following leisure centres:

Abbey Sports Centre

Didcot Wave

Henley Leisure Centre

Thame Leisure Centre

Faringdon Leisure Centre

Wantage Leisure Centre

You can find out more about the Swimming Pool Support Fund on the Sport England website.

*The Value of Swimming Report by Swim England, September 2023

Sport England is a public body and invests up to £300 million National Lottery and government money each year in projects and programmes that help people get active and play sport. It wants everyone in England, regardless of age, background, or level of ability, to feel able to engage in sport and physical activity. That’s why a lot of its work is specifically focused on helping people who do no, or very little, physical activity and groups who are typically less active – like women, disabled people and people on lower incomes. 

The councils have worked with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to set the fund criteria and will act as the accountable body for its administration and monitoring.