Underfunded and Undervalued

The board of the Southern Swimming Pool has said it is ‘frankly unacceptable that it has been left underfunded and undervalued for so long’.

The current Southern Swimming Pool Board is made up of a representative from each of the Southern local authorities and consists of an entirely new board, all being appointed in August 2021.

In its statement, the board said since its members were appointed, they had ‘undertaken a number of due diligence steps, has analysed the  pool’s finances, and instigated independent operational/HR and infrastructure reports’.

They added: ‘The Board has  also strengthened the pool’s governance and oversight whilst working with the DESC, DOI & Treasury  to stabilise the situation in order to maintain the core services of the swimming pool. The Board considers the pool to be a strategic community asset which is fundamental to the wellbeing  of the people in the South and has pressed Government for more meaningful support as it is quite  frankly unacceptable that it has been left underfunded and undervalued for so long.’

The members said that while central gov had provided what amounted to deficiency payments, to meet annual operating costs, since the 1970s. However, in recent years these payments have failed to increase as costs have risen, they said that ‘deficiency funding has fallen well short of what is required and the pool has faced a severe cash flow problem’.

Review

The board also states that it welcomes the all island review into swimming pool provision and the support of Minister Julie Edge, the Chief Minister and political members from the south of the island, funding issues will continue to affect local pools and there is a ‘real risk’ the south will lose its pool.

They said: ‘The Board looks forward to meeting with Knight, Kavanagh & Page, the company appointed to review  the Island pools and intends to carry on supporting the operational staff as best it can whilst awaiting  the outcome. 

‘Without clear community support and strong political leadership there remains a very real risk that  the South will lose its community pool. The Board therefore encourages all community groups and  individuals to show their support for our pool by emailing or signing the petition.’

Cafe

In its statement, the board noted that the closure of the cafe at the pool was a decision it reached ‘reluctantly’, which, it sadly seems likely will result in two members of staff being ‘affected’ by the closure.

Future

Ultimately, the board want the same thing the MHKs say they want, a pool being built as part of the new high school in the south of the island.

Gef has contacted the DESC for a response.

You can see the full statement here: