Tynwald members from the south of the island have banded together to try to secure the future of a publicly owned southern community pool and for funding to be brought forward for a new southern high school.
The statement has been signed by MHKs Tim Glover, Dr Michelle Haywood, Jason Moorhouse and Speaker Juan Watterson, as well as MLCs Diane Kelsey and Rob Mercer.
Since last year’s General Election progress on a new high school for the south of the island has been considerably slower than many would have expected. Although former MHK Graham Cregeen said during the election campaign that it was due to be completed by 2027/28 based on capital plans at the time.
The members said they have written to the Education and Treasury ministers ‘setting this out to be the top community issue for all Southern Members of Tynwald, and that budgets without adequate provision for this scheme will not be supported’.
They have also made clear their belief that the new school and new southern community pool should be built as part of one project.
The financial future of the southern pool is under considerable strain, it, along with the northern and western pools, is currently being underwritten by central gov while a review is undertaken into the island’s swimming pools.
Back in March, the DoI, which has responsibility for local authorities, withdrew a motion that would have allowed the southern authorities to increase funding to the pool from their rates from 2.5p in the pound to 6p in the pound for 2022/23 and then by a further 0.1p for the next two years to a cap of 8p in the pound.
That motion was withdrawn after legal advice, but it is back on the list for July’s Tynwald and if approved this would see those increases kick in from 2023.
In their statement, the Tynwald members said: ‘Since then, we have met with Education Minister Julie Edge and the Department has guaranteed financial support for this current year to keep all the regional pools open and the Department has announced a review of all public swimming pools on the Island, including the National Sports Centre.
‘We have also queried the closure of the café facilities at the pool at the end of the current school term and the redundancies. However, it is not our job to run the facility as that is the job of the board which is largely made up with representatives from the southern local authorities.
‘The Southern Tynwald Members believe a pool is never going to run at a profit and the business model should always be about putting the customer first. We are fighting for the existing pool to be maintained for community use until a new one is built on the Castle Rushen High School site.’
Gef has contacted the gov for comment.
Update: Of course MLCs don’t represent any constituencies, they just happen to live in the south. Maybe we should elect these people or something, then we’d know who and what they represent.