|West Oxfordshire District Council in partnership with leisure operator and charitable social enterprise Better have agreed a new winter timetable for council-owned swimming pools that will help protect leisure centres in the face of this winter’s huge spike in utility costs.|
|Councillor Joy Aitman, Cabinet Member for Stronger Healthy Communities, said, “Nationally the leisure sector has taken a huge hit as a result of the increase in energy costs and we have also seen a drop in user numbers since the pandemic.
“Small reductions in the opening times of the swimming pools at times, when very few people use them, will help reduce energy costs. We will continue to keep the pools open for all of our swimming clubs and lessons.
“We are working with Better, and consulting with residents through our budget survey, to identify measures to reduce costs and increase efficiency to help protect our leisure services.
“Our leisure centres provide fantastic leisure opportunities across the district and I would urge residents who don’t currently use them to look at what they can offer whether that be swimming, gyms, playing pitches, hall hire, activities for a range of ages or even a trampoline play park or soft play.”
The new swimming pool timetable will affect Carterton, Chipping Norton and Windrush Leisure Centre pools and will typically see the pools open an hour later and close an hour earlier on certain days, when pool usage is at its lowest. There will also be some closures during the day during times of low usage.
The revised programme will be introduced from 12th December 2022 and is expected to run until Spring 2023.
Matt Simmons, Partnership Manager at Better, said, “The recent rises in utility prices have had a huge impact on Better, both as a not-for-profit organisation and as a leisure operator.
“While utility price rises are a nationwide cross-sector issue, leisure centres and in particular those with swimming pools, are being disproportionately impacted. In West Oxfordshire our annual operating costs are up 132% on 2019.
“We have been doing all we can to reduce our energy consumption for example by introducing LED bulbs and movement sensors to lighting, installing variable speed drives to pumps and thermal pool covers, but we need to take further steps in order to remain viable this winter.”
Full details on the new winter timetable for swimming pools in West Oxfordshire will be found at: www.better.org.uk/west-ox and via the Better app.
Residents can take part in the Council’s budget consultation by visiting www.westoxon.gov.uk/budget