SEVERAL school swimming pools in north Hampshire are under threat of closure.

Two pools are to be lost because of the funding crisis that threatens the future of seven others.

The nine pools were among more than 40 in Hampshire that missed out on county council modernisation cash for pools.

As a result, many headteachers say their pools could face closure next time major repair bills arrive.

The funding decisions were taken by Councillor David Kirk, executive member for children's services, following a report that recommended modernisation cash for pools be concentrated in 14 schools. But only one - at Overton Primary School - is in The Gazette area.

The report, by director of children's services John Coughlan and Andrew Smith, then director of property, business and regulatory services, admits some schools will have to fund capital items such as new pool liners, boilers and fencing themselves.

Cllr Kirk has already given approval for St Mary's Junior School, in Old Basing, and The Hurst Community College, in Baughurst, to fill in their pools.

St Mary's headteacher Tracey Brunton said: "We are having to demolish ours and that's because of the new funding arrangement. It's a great shame."

She said the pool could not be used last year because the paving around it was in poor condition and the school alone could not afford to repair it.

She said the decision to fill in the 1960s pool in February half-term had caused disappointment in the village.

Hurst headteacher Malcolm Christian was unavailable for comment.

The other schools where the future of swimming pools is now in doubt are: Testbourne Community School, in Whitchurch, Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College, in Basingstoke, The Clere School and Technology College, in Burghclere, Kingsclere Primary School, Burghclere Primary School, Oakley Junior School and Old Basing Infant School.

Testbourne's headteacher admitted that the school would be in trouble if its pool faced an unexpected repair bill.

Hilary Jackson said: "If we want to have a nation of healthy people then the Government should provide money to counties to ensure the future of sports facilities.

"At Testbourne, our swimming pool is a much-loved asset and we will not let it go without a fight should it face closure."

Jean Holdcroft, headteacher of Burghclere Primary, said the school governors will meet this month to discuss whether they can afford to keep the school pool.

Georgina Grace, one of Cranbourne's senior management team, said the school would have to reconsider the pool's future if major work was required.

She said: "It is used around the clock by clubs and societies - it would be a huge loss to them."

Clere headteacher Sarah Rogers was disappointed with the county's decision. She said: "It is an important resource to the school, but one that each year we will have to see if we can afford."

David Howe, headteacher at Oakley Junior School, said he was talking to the governors and the school would try to retain the pool, but there could be a problem if any new health and safety legislation required significant investment.

Kingsclere Primary headteacher Duncan Wood said his school would keep using it in the short term but would have to think again if major investment was required.

In a statement, the county council said the decision to invest £750,000 developing the 14 pools that are to receive modernisation money would ensure all primary schoolchildren would have access to swimming lessons.

It said that by using the pools alongside community pools, "this would represent better value for money for schools".

Cllr Kirk said: "Hampshire County Council is committed to ensuring all Key Stage 2 pupils have access to high-quality, modern swimming facilities and to ensuring that school facilities represent best value for taxpayers' money."