School swimming pool in Overton saved from closure

Basingstoke Gazette: School swimming pool in Overton saved from closure School swimming pool in Overton saved from closure

A SCHOOL swimming pool will be saved – thanks to dozens of volunteers coming forward to offer their help.

As previously reported in The Gazette, Lordsfield Swimming Pool, at Overton Primary School, was under threat of closure because of changes to the way it was funded and new safety regulations.

A public meeting was held to generate support, at which villagers were told that if they did not offer their help, the pool would close.

An update on the pool’s future was given at Overton Parish Council meeting, at which Tony Leach, a governor at Overton Primary School, said: “The good news is the pool will be opening this year, so we are pleased to let you know that because that wasn’t abso-lutely certain, but it is now.”

Fiona Wyeth, headteacher at Overton Primary School, explained to councillors that problems arose when changes were made to the school’s funding.

She added: “We really do want to keep the pool open, and that’s very much on our agenda, but it has to be affordable and sustainable.”

She said the running costs change each year, but are on average between £12,000 and £15,000.

Mrs Wyeth said: “We have to make sure we spend the right money on the right things for the children.”

An agreement has been reached between the school and Lordsfield Swimming Club, which has 700 members who use the pool.

It means that the club will fund 78.5 per cent of the costs, and the remaining 21.5 per cent will come from the school, which reflects the usage of the facility.

John Pritchard, the chairman of Lordsfield Swimming Club, said around 200 people attended the public meeting, of which 90 filled in a form to offer support of suggestions on how to save the pool.

He said: “The support is there in the village to volunteer and help support the pool.”

Funding has already been secured to train new volunteers and the committee is now looking to source more funds from elsewhere, including local businesses.

Cllr Lucy Sloane Williams, who said her daughter had learned to swim at Lordsfield pool, added: “It’s a magical element for children in the village.”

Mr Leach thanked the council for their support – the council has agreed to put aside £2,000 each year for the pool.

He added: “It’s imperative the pool continues in the future, and I know you will support that.”

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