Richard Holden, Member of Parliament for North West Durham, has written to the CEO of Durham County Council to express his deep concern over the announcement that Consett Swimming Pool will be closed for a further twelve months.
Consett Swimming Pool, which is within the Consett Leisure Centre, was closed before the coronavirus pandemic hit to enable building works to take place. The council had taken control of the building and the swimming pool in 2018 and, although the closure was initially meant to be short-term, investigations of the site revealed that there are badly cracked tiles, leaks, water loss, poorly fitted and maintained electrical cabling and problems with the flooring in both the gym and the squash courts.
Richard wrote to the council in August 2020 to ask for an urgent update about when the pool could be expected to reopen, and dozens of constituents contacted him to express their concerns over the lack of information from the council.
Richard has now been forced to write to the council for a second time following their announcement that the pool will remain closed until 2022. Richard held a meeting with headteachers of primary schools in North West Durham, all of whom expressed their concern about the impact the continued closure is having on the ‘ability of local children to exercise and learn to swim’. Concerns have also been shared by Richard’s disabled constituents, many of whom used the facility regularly as it was a controlled environment in which they can exercise.
Headteachers also expressed their concerns that they are still being charged by Durham County Council for swimming lessons, as well as paying transport costs for children to and from lessons, despite the fact that the lessons don’t currently exist. Richard has stated in his letter that he believes that the charge to schools should be reviewed urgently, especially as schools have faced ‘significant financial pressures’ over the last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Commenting, Richard Holden, Member of Parliament for North West Durham, said: “I am extremely concerned over Durham County Council’s announcement that Consett Swimming Pool is to be closed for another year. This has an enormous impact on the community as people don’t have access to a pool or lessons, and lack of access to a pool can have a very serious impact on those with disabilities.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that schools are being charged for swimming lessons that don’t currently exist and that, on top of this, they have to pay for transport to and from these non-existent lessons.
“I have written to the council as a matter of urgency to request that they look into the policy of charging schools for non-existent services during a global pandemic. I look forward to hearing back from them and will continue to work with my constituents and local education providers on this crucial issue.”