Thursday, April 10, 2014
Seaton Primary School’s swimming pool will be available to the community again this year – but with a “use it or lose it” warning.
Executive head teacher Alan Simpson said local support for the loss-making facility was essential after the town council’s decision not to help fund it.
The authority recently rejected a call to meet half the £10,000 it cost Leisure East Devon (LED) to run the pool last year - saying the best solution was to get more people to use it through better advertising.
In a statement the council said its decision was also made in the light of an assurance from Mr Simpson that even if LED did not finance the public sessions the school would continue to open the pool to the community though its lettings procedure.
Town Clerk Chris Drake explained: “Leisure East Devon made a loss of £10,000 last year, EDDC offered to come up with £5,000 if Seaton Town Council matched the funding.
“Following a lively debate, councillors, in the knowledge that the pool would remain open to the public, took the decision not to contribute funds to the pool.”
Mayor Gaynor Sedgwick said: “Seaton Primary School have done an excellent job both for the children who learn valuable skills in the pool and enabling its community use. We had no idea that LED were operating at a loss, and Seaton Town Council had not been involved in any way with the pool. I hope that with the advice LED have received from Seaton town councillors they will improve the advertising of this facility, which has been under used due to a lack of information.”
Meanwhile Mr Simpson confirmed to the Herald his desire to see the school’s “excellent swimming pool” used to the full by the local community.
He said: “The school cannot do this by themselves and has worked in partnership with Leisure East Devon for the past two years to provide a service. They have been responsible for managing the public swimming sessions. It was only three weeks ago that the school found out about their financial losses when they approached Seaton Town Council for extra support. This support has not been offered and it raised a concern about what would happen this year.
“However, I am now in a position to confirm that LED are going to continue to manage the service and open the pool to the community. They are going to continue to provide public swimming sessions at weekends and during school holidays through the summer, beginning on Good Friday. They are determined to market the pool better and hope that they get more users of the pool.
“I hope, for their part, Seaton Town Council might find a way to connect the public entrance of the pool on the Elizabeth Road playing fields to Scalwell Lane or Harepath Road with a path so that users don’t have to walk across the field. This would make access easier for some people. It is essential for the pool to be used as fully as possible to reduce any financial loss and for LED to continue to provide lifeguards for public sessions in the future.
“Without LED the school could not provide public swimming - they could only make the pool available to individuals and organisations through their lettings procedures, requiring users to meet the safety rules and provide their own lifeguard. “However, LED are continuing this year, so my message to the community would be “use it or lose it!”