SWIMMING pools across York and North Yorkshire could face closure unless the Government acts to help them.

That is the stark view of swimming pool operators across the area who are calling on the Government to step in to stop crippling energy costs causing a tide of swimming closures and cuts.

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As part of Big Swim Day today (February 24), people across the region are being urged to show their support for local venues by visiting and calling on politicians to take action.

The action is being organised by Community Leisure UK (CLUK), the industry body representing the operators of 880 pools across England, Scotland and Wales.

As The Press reported previously, the electricity bill at Tadcaster Community Swimming Pool trebled in just one month.

Chris Porter is manager of Tadcaster Swimming Pool Trust as well as being CLUK’s regional director for the North East and Yorkshire.

He said: “It’s already an extremely challenging situation for all leisure trusts, but the strain will become incredible if the Government does not rethink and continue to provide support.

“At Tadcaster alone, our electricity costs have gone up by £7,500 per month. That’s just for one site. Our gas is still on a fixed rate, but that ends in October and we’re facing a 170% increase in that - and that’s using a specialist broker to find the best deal. We’re looking at a 200% rise in utility costs across the board.

“We’re far from alone in facing these problems. Across the board, leisure trusts need help in dealing with them. Without Government support communities will suffer. Peoples’ health and wellbeing will suffer.

“Once swimming pools close, it’s incredibly difficult to ever reopen them. Government support will make a significant difference in ensuring that does happen.”

Charitable social enterprise GLL operates swimming pools across in York.

CEO Peter Bundey said: “Without central Government help, the future of public swimming pools and small community-led pools is under real threat.

“For generations we’ve taken for granted that we all have easy access to a local pool, where we can learn to swim, exercise and socialise; unfortunately, that may not be the case for much longer.

“By excluding leisure facilities and in particular swimming pools from the list of sectors eligible for extra financial support, central Government is effectively consigning many public and community pools across the UK to closure.

"With fewer opportunities to swim, health equalities will grow and the most disadvantaged in society will be disproportionately affected. In the longer-term pressure on health services will increase as a result.”

CLUK, whose members employ 17,000 people at community swimming pools, have written to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt calling on him to designate leisure and cultural charitable trusts as a Vulnerable Sector as part of the UK Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme. But it was not included in the updated list of eligible sectors.

CLUK say pool closures would not only block a route to better public health, but cause an irreparable blow to elite sporting development, losing medal-winners of the future.

As part of Big Swim Day, it is encouraging people to show their support for pools on social media using the hashtag #saveourpools, highlighting the invaluable role they play in communities.

The UK Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme provides relief for non-domestic users across Great Britain and Northern Ireland by reducing gas and electricity unit prices.

The sector was supported over the first six months of the scheme, but was not on the list announced for inclusion beyond April 1.