Statement from Newark and Sherwood District Council and Active4Today regarding Southwell Leisure Centre.Posted on: Friday, January 19, 2024
Many of you will be aware that the main pool at Southwell Leisure Centre has been closed since the end of October 2023.
Understandably, this has been extremely frustrating for people who use the pool and want to see it re-opened as fast as possible.
The purpose of this statement is to provide an update on what is happening and to kick into touch some of the misinformation and rumours that have been thrown around.
In 2021, Newark and Sherwood District Council took over the management of Southwell Leisure Centre, with the operational activity being carried out by Active4Today. The centre is owned by a Charity, Southwell Leisure Centre Trust, who could not afford to maintain the centre. Without the District Council’s intervention, the leisure centre would have closed.
Since the District Council took over the centre under a 25 year lease with the Trust, it has spent £352,000 on historical repairs that were outstanding, and another £750,000 programme of works is scheduled to take place.
In October 2023, major defects with the main swimming pool were identified. The pool was losing 8,750 litres of water a day. A number of repair options were considered and the only feasible one is estimated to cost £645,000.
The District Council had three choices. Close the pool and do nothing. Spend £645,000 repairing an old pool. Build a brand new main pool and learner pool, at an estimated cost of £5.5million.
As everyone knows, money is tight right now and all Councils are under severe pressure. Lots of swimming pools up and down the Country have closed and many have never re-opened.
Although it is a huge investment, Newark and Sherwood District Council decided that the right thing to do was to invest for the future by building a new swimming facility, on land adjacent to, and linked to, the current leisure centre. We see this as the first step towards replacing the whole of the current leisure centre with a new one.
The problem with repairing the current pool is not just the cost. It’s the risk of other repairs emerging as the repaired pool would still be situated in a 60 year old building. We understand that this means that people will be without a pool while a new one is being built and we’ve been doing everything possible to provide alternative arrangements at other pools.
By now, we had hoped to have made good progress in developing designs and proposals for the new swimming facility. And we want to do this with the swimming club, Southwell Town Council and others with an interest in the centre. Unfortunately, Southwell Leisure Centre Trust, the owners of the site, have not given their consent to progress with the new facility and the District Council cannot move forward without this. Some members of the Trust are holding on, wanting the District Council to repair the pool and build a new one. To be honest, that option was never on the table as it would be a waste of people’s money and this has been explained to the Trustees.
We’re continuing to press the Trust for a decision and as soon as we have any more news, we’ll let you know.
Paul Peacock Andy Freeman
Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council Chairman of Active4Today