19 July 2019| | 2 min read
Fenham Pool closure announced.
Issued on behalf of Fenham Swimming Project.
Fenham Swimming Project has announced the difficult decision to close Fenham Community Pool, following 14 years of successful operation.
Recent inspection of the building has brought to light significant structural damage around the pool with further investigation required to fully establish the extent of these problems. The anticipated cost of repairs would be hundreds of thousands of pounds and as a result Fenham Swimming Project has requested to hand the lease back to the City Council.
Following closure in 2003 the local community, including a team of volunteers, rallied round and created the Fenham Swimming Project, a community interest company with the dream of reopening the pool.
This ambition was achieved in July 2005 when the pool officially reopened, with the support of Newcastle City Council and through successful funding bids. Subsequent grants for refurbishment enhanced the pool, but it has proved difficult to sustain in the face of falling demand.
Fenham Swimming Project was granted the lease to run the pool and has been providing swimming lessons to around 700 young people per week, supporting around 300 pupils from local school to develop their swimming skills.
However, use of the pool by local residents has fallen to very low levels in recent times, with as few as 20 users per day.
Fenham Swimming Project will support all current users to find alternative swimming opportunities across the city and will be engaging with local schools to ensure lessons continue elsewhere in September 2019.
Fenham Swimming Project has also confirmed there will be no job losses for staff based at the pool and they will be supported to find similar employment across Newcastle.
The lease is expected to be handed back to the council once the project closes on July 28.
Newcastle City Council proposes to undertake a full assessment of the building to understand fully the structural issues and allow potential next steps to be explored.
Work will then be undertaken with local residents to explore these options which will then be subject to consultation, giving residents the chance to have their say on the building’s potential future.
Lynne Richardson, chair of Fenham Swimming Project said:
“It is with a heavy heart that we have today reached the decision to hand back Fenham Community Pool to the city council.
“Our ambitious plan to reopen the pool would not have been possible without the support of volunteers, the local community, schools and vitally the city council. Our 14-year journey has had a massively positive impact across Fenham.
“I would also like to pass on thanks to Swim North East who have supported the pool and delivered a series of brilliant lessons at the pool and brought in a huge number of users to support us.
“With the number of pool users dwindling and grants and bid opportunities exhausted we have struggled to generate the resources needed for the pool to stay open. I would like to thank Newcastle City Council who have worked hard to help us survive independently for this amount of time, providing additional resource and support throughout operations, however the latest information about the problems with the building leave us with no other options.”
A Newcastle City Council spokesperson said:
“Newcastle City Council recognised the importance of this pool and have supported Fenham Swimming Project since they took over the lease 15 years ago, providing specific resource over the last two years which has helped them stay open.
“Once we have assessed the building fully we will work closely with residents and organisations to look at next steps for the site and viable options for it’s future.
“It is important to recognise the approach of Fenham Swimming Project and thank them for their work to keep the pool running for the last 14 years, ensuring it was well used and helping to improve the health of residents through swimming.”