As part of efforts to find a solution for Woking’s Pool in the Park, Councillor Ellen Nicholson, portfolio holder for Living Well, has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer highlighting particular issues that have hampered efforts to secure funding for the Pool in Park.
The first issue is that Councils are not eligible to access the Swimming Pool Support Fund (SPSF) if they have issued a Section 114 notice. Woking issued a section 114 notice due to the terrible financial situation inherited from the previous administration in June 2023.
Cllr Nicholson said, “Despite ensuring the Council applied for the swimming pool support fund (SPSF) funding in the Spring, Woking has been excluded due to our financial constraints. It is a contradiction for the Government to set up a fund to protect swimming pools at risk and then exclude councils who are in financial straits from applying.”
Responding to suggestions from Woking’s MP that this funding would be available to Woking, she said, “I'm not sure our current MP is aware of his own Government's rules on funding grants as he seemed to be saying in last week’s Woking News & Mail that Woking should apply (which of course we had months before).”
Cllr Nicholson also observes that swimming lessons are mandated in the national curriculum for key stages 1 and 2, yet swimming pools are not considered statutory services. Under Woking’s section 114 notice, the council is still required to provide statutory services, if swimming pools were considered as such, this would mean that the facilities should be secured to fulfill the mandated requirement for schools to offer swimming lessons, helping navigate the health prevention agenda and minimise any long term health consequences.
She concludes, “I therefore ask the Government to act swiftly with two measures:
Woking has an ongoing constructive dialogue with Government commissioners on resolving Woking’s financial situation and we ask Government to recognise our commitment and work in partnership to prevent Woking's Poo! in the Park from closure.”
The full text of Cllr Nicholson’s letter is available below.
The potential closure of the Pool in the Park is currently part of a 6 week consultation, which closes on the 12th November 2023, you can give your views on Woking Council’s website here.
A final decision on any changes will be made by Full Council on Thursday 8th February 2024.