Future of Overton swimming pool in doubt

Charlie Thorn, who runs the swimming club at Lordsfield Swimming Pool

Charlie Thorn, who runs the swimming club at Lordsfield Swimming Pool

First published in Basingstoke Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

CONFUSION surrounds the future of a school swimming pool.

Users of the outdoor Lordsfield Swimming Pool at Overton Primary School, in Court Drove, fear it could shut because of a lack of funding.

Overton Parish Council clerk Laura Harley told councillors: “As we are aware, the funding for school pools has changed. There’s now no direct funding for school swimming pools. That’s been circulated in a letter from the governors to the parents of the school. There does seem to be some questions as to what is happening.”

She said the council needed to arrange a meeting with Overton Primary School governors, the headteacher and the swimming club running the pool.

She added: “No one is really sure what the situation is and hopefully we can get to the bottom of that and then move forward to ensure the pool remains open for the people of Overton. It is strongly supported.”

Overton borough councillor Ian Tilbury said there was confusion about what was going on.

But council chairman Tom Ridler pointed out: “The sensible thing is to get the facts.”

Charlie Thorn, who runs the swimming club at the pool, said he too was not clear about the situation.

He added: “A letter came from the school and it said that because of the circumstances with regards to money, it might not be viable to run because it costs a lot of money. We have got to wait and see. We will fight to keep it open.”

A letter sent to Overton Primary School parents in May, from Lordsfield Swimming Club Pool Committee, warned of the possible cancellation of swimming sessions because of a lack of volunteer supervisors.

It added: “Without more volunteers we may have to reduce the number of sessions we can offer or in an extreme case liquidate the club.”

A statement from Hampshire County Council said schools, including Overton, had to make their own decisions about pools, even though in this case, about £100,000 had been provided by the county council to improve the facilities and make it available for other schools.

It added: “The school was encouraged to allow other groups to use the pool as a means of supporting its on-going maintenance.

“Government funding rules restrict the county’s ability to allocate funding to schools specifically to maintain swimming pools. Decisions on the internal allocation of funding are for the schools to make themselves.”

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