Are budget cuts really behind plans to mothball Sutton swimming pool?

St Helens Star: Are budget cuts really behind plans to mothball Sutton swimming pool? Are budget cuts really behind plans to mothball Sutton swimming pool?

PROPOSALS to mothball a swimming pool because of “unprecedented government funding cuts” have been attacked by unions and swimmers.

Unison claim budget cuts are not the primary reason for the potential closure of Sutton swimming pool by St Helens Council.

Instead, the union fears the local authority wants to offload the Sutton Leisure Centre to another organisation, most likely the Sutton Academy.

Scrapping the costs associated with a swimming pool would potentially make the site more attractive to suitors, according to the union.

Steve Fay, of Unison in St Helens, said: “We believe the proposals to close the pool are not a commercial decision but to make it a more attractive package for outsourcing the facilities of Sutton.”

He also criticised the council for not entering into discussions with Unison about the potential shutdown of the pool even though it will have implications for staff there.

However, St Helens Council, which says it has had to find £50-million in savings since 2010 and faces a further £10-million of cuts next year, says that mothballing of the pool is one option that may help balance the books. It claims the move would save £180,000 a year.

Senior councillors and officers are currently drawing up budgets for next year and have to find significant savings.

Key town hall figures have warned more “unpalatable” proposals will have to be put forward.

In response to a Star question about the union’s claims, the council admitted talks had been held previously with the school but maintained, in this instance, the focus is on balancing budgets.

It read: “Discussions have taken place with the school on a number of occasions, going back as far as 2000, but to date no agreement has been reached.

“However, we must stress that at this stage we are only consulting on proposals to mothball the pool.

"A number of options are being explored, against a background of severe and unprecedented cuts to budgets across the whole council - which are impacting on a range of services in St Helens.”

Numerous readers have pointed out that the proposals were announced in the same week that Sport England earmarked £150,000 to get more college students active to build on London 2012 legacy.

The council has said that should Sutton close, school swimming and swimming lessons would be transferred to Parr Pool.

Comments (14)

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11:49am Thu 15 Nov 12

keepitreel says...

the plot thickens,it is getting to the point when no one believes anything this council tells us,how many more underhand back door deals have they done on the qt ,they could save money on drastic cuts in wages for the chief exec as well as councillers,cut the number of staff in the town hall to a skeleton staff and reduce how many free loading cllrs we have 3 per ward is far to many for a small town like ours.
the plot thickens,it is getting to the point when no one believes anything this council tells us,how many more underhand back door deals have they done on the qt ,they could save money on drastic cuts in wages for the chief exec as well as councillers,cut the number of staff in the town hall to a skeleton staff and reduce how many free loading cllrs we have 3 per ward is far to many for a small town like ours. keepitreel

12:41pm Thu 15 Nov 12

mikeperry109 says...

The debate in this section when the News broke last week said it all and Unison have hit the nail on the head. However, perhaps it is time for Unison members to ask their union bosses why their hard earned contributions are used to fund the Labour Party, when their record in this borough is one of self-interest and lack of vision.
The debate in this section when the News broke last week said it all and Unison have hit the nail on the head. However, perhaps it is time for Unison members to ask their union bosses why their hard earned contributions are used to fund the Labour Party, when their record in this borough is one of self-interest and lack of vision. mikeperry109

12:42pm Thu 15 Nov 12

shh says...

This seems ill thought out. Closing Sutton Swimming will create a divide in swimming facilities across the town. Also, getting children to the pool in Parr from clock face / sutton / thatto heath for a swimming lesson (especially after school) won't be practical for lots of parents, especially those without a car.
This seems ill thought out. Closing Sutton Swimming will create a divide in swimming facilities across the town. Also, getting children to the pool in Parr from clock face / sutton / thatto heath for a swimming lesson (especially after school) won't be practical for lots of parents, especially those without a car. shh

12:48pm Thu 15 Nov 12

mikeperry109 says...

shh wrote:
This seems ill thought out. Closing Sutton Swimming will create a divide in swimming facilities across the town. Also, getting children to the pool in Parr from clock face / sutton / thatto heath for a swimming lesson (especially after school) won't be practical for lots of parents, especially those without a car.
The people who run the council - overpaid senior officers and politicians - do not care about people and their the community. They see only cuts that have to be made, except to their own generous salaries, expenses and pensions. We have the power to get rid of them, but we keep voting them back in because they wear a Labour rosette. We get what we deserve.
[quote][p][bold]shh[/bold] wrote: This seems ill thought out. Closing Sutton Swimming will create a divide in swimming facilities across the town. Also, getting children to the pool in Parr from clock face / sutton / thatto heath for a swimming lesson (especially after school) won't be practical for lots of parents, especially those without a car.[/p][/quote]The people who run the council - overpaid senior officers and politicians - do not care about people and their the community. They see only cuts that have to be made, except to their own generous salaries, expenses and pensions. We have the power to get rid of them, but we keep voting them back in because they wear a Labour rosette. We get what we deserve. mikeperry109

12:56pm Thu 15 Nov 12

pitbullboxing says...

As the pressure mounts by the day - surely the biggest bacon consumer in the world can see it's time for her and her inept bunch of worshippers to move on. RIMMER OUT RIMMER OUT RIMMER OUT!!!
As the pressure mounts by the day - surely the biggest bacon consumer in the world can see it's time for her and her inept bunch of worshippers to move on. RIMMER OUT RIMMER OUT RIMMER OUT!!! pitbullboxing

1:08pm Thu 15 Nov 12

mikeperry109 says...

pitbullboxing wrote:
As the pressure mounts by the day - surely the biggest bacon consumer in the world can see it's time for her and her inept bunch of worshippers to move on. RIMMER OUT RIMMER OUT RIMMER OUT!!!
Unfortunately, pitbull, Rimmer is actually deaf. However, she can read, so maybe you will get through to her!
[quote][p][bold]pitbullboxing[/bold] wrote: As the pressure mounts by the day - surely the biggest bacon consumer in the world can see it's time for her and her inept bunch of worshippers to move on. RIMMER OUT RIMMER OUT RIMMER OUT!!![/p][/quote]Unfortunately, pitbull, Rimmer is actually deaf. However, she can read, so maybe you will get through to her! mikeperry109

4:15pm Thu 15 Nov 12

janet c says...

surely the cost of coaches to transport children for school swimming lessons to parr will eat out a vast amount of the local authorities budget that they are trying supposedly to save. For parents taking children to swimming lessons my advice would be to get there early as parking facilities at Queens Park and Parr are limited. The closure will hit the poorest and most deprived in the community as travel costs to the other pools will obviously be a consideration into how often they are used. Maybe if the lessons are all squashed into Parr and Queens Park there wont be time left for ordinary swimming anyway.
surely the cost of coaches to transport children for school swimming lessons to parr will eat out a vast amount of the local authorities budget that they are trying supposedly to save. For parents taking children to swimming lessons my advice would be to get there early as parking facilities at Queens Park and Parr are limited. The closure will hit the poorest and most deprived in the community as travel costs to the other pools will obviously be a consideration into how often they are used. Maybe if the lessons are all squashed into Parr and Queens Park there wont be time left for ordinary swimming anyway. janet c

4:56pm Thu 15 Nov 12

anthonywilson says...

janet c wrote:
surely the cost of coaches to transport children for school swimming lessons to parr will eat out a vast amount of the local authorities budget that they are trying supposedly to save. For parents taking children to swimming lessons my advice would be to get there early as parking facilities at Queens Park and Parr are limited. The closure will hit the poorest and most deprived in the community as travel costs to the other pools will obviously be a consideration into how often they are used. Maybe if the lessons are all squashed into Parr and Queens Park there wont be time left for ordinary swimming anyway.
Really good points Janet especially about the potential cost increases of school transport to the other pools further afield and the amount of available parking at the other swimming pools.

Isn't it a coincidence however that the Parr swimming pool recently also has had a new car park built? Was this to accommodate larger number of people who would no longer be able to use Sutton swimming pool?

The Unison story is very near to the truth. There were strong rumours going round two years ago that I know of that St Helens Council wanted either the school to take over the running of the whole complex when it was a sports academy or get shut and close it which in essence is what happened to some extent whilst the school was an academy.
As Sutton High School is no longer a Sports College but an Academy this might no longer be possible as the focus within the school curiculum has changed as a result of the schools status.

It would not surprise me one bit that there will be an attempt to sell off the whole leisure centre building to the private sector in the near future. It really makes you wonder how many of these decisions regarding the change of status of the school were part of bigger agenda and deliberately engineered.
[quote][p][bold]janet c[/bold] wrote: surely the cost of coaches to transport children for school swimming lessons to parr will eat out a vast amount of the local authorities budget that they are trying supposedly to save. For parents taking children to swimming lessons my advice would be to get there early as parking facilities at Queens Park and Parr are limited. The closure will hit the poorest and most deprived in the community as travel costs to the other pools will obviously be a consideration into how often they are used. Maybe if the lessons are all squashed into Parr and Queens Park there wont be time left for ordinary swimming anyway.[/p][/quote]Really good points Janet especially about the potential cost increases of school transport to the other pools further afield and the amount of available parking at the other swimming pools. Isn't it a coincidence however that the Parr swimming pool recently also has had a new car park built? Was this to accommodate larger number of people who would no longer be able to use Sutton swimming pool? The Unison story is very near to the truth. There were strong rumours going round two years ago that I know of that St Helens Council wanted either the school to take over the running of the whole complex when it was a sports academy or get shut and close it which in essence is what happened to some extent whilst the school was an academy. As Sutton High School is no longer a Sports College but an Academy this might no longer be possible as the focus within the school curiculum has changed as a result of the schools status. It would not surprise me one bit that there will be an attempt to sell off the whole leisure centre building to the private sector in the near future. It really makes you wonder how many of these decisions regarding the change of status of the school were part of bigger agenda and deliberately engineered. anthonywilson

5:41pm Thu 15 Nov 12

mikeperry109 says...

anthonywilson wrote:
janet c wrote:
surely the cost of coaches to transport children for school swimming lessons to parr will eat out a vast amount of the local authorities budget that they are trying supposedly to save. For parents taking children to swimming lessons my advice would be to get there early as parking facilities at Queens Park and Parr are limited. The closure will hit the poorest and most deprived in the community as travel costs to the other pools will obviously be a consideration into how often they are used. Maybe if the lessons are all squashed into Parr and Queens Park there wont be time left for ordinary swimming anyway.
Really good points Janet especially about the potential cost increases of school transport to the other pools further afield and the amount of available parking at the other swimming pools.

Isn't it a coincidence however that the Parr swimming pool recently also has had a new car park built? Was this to accommodate larger number of people who would no longer be able to use Sutton swimming pool?

The Unison story is very near to the truth. There were strong rumours going round two years ago that I know of that St Helens Council wanted either the school to take over the running of the whole complex when it was a sports academy or get shut and close it which in essence is what happened to some extent whilst the school was an academy.
As Sutton High School is no longer a Sports College but an Academy this might no longer be possible as the focus within the school curiculum has changed as a result of the schools status.

It would not surprise me one bit that there will be an attempt to sell off the whole leisure centre building to the private sector in the near future. It really makes you wonder how many of these decisions regarding the change of status of the school were part of bigger agenda and deliberately engineered.
A Machievelian approach to local government, Anthony? I don't thinkk that they are that clever - but you never know!
[quote][p][bold]anthonywilson[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]janet c[/bold] wrote: surely the cost of coaches to transport children for school swimming lessons to parr will eat out a vast amount of the local authorities budget that they are trying supposedly to save. For parents taking children to swimming lessons my advice would be to get there early as parking facilities at Queens Park and Parr are limited. The closure will hit the poorest and most deprived in the community as travel costs to the other pools will obviously be a consideration into how often they are used. Maybe if the lessons are all squashed into Parr and Queens Park there wont be time left for ordinary swimming anyway.[/p][/quote]Really good points Janet especially about the potential cost increases of school transport to the other pools further afield and the amount of available parking at the other swimming pools. Isn't it a coincidence however that the Parr swimming pool recently also has had a new car park built? Was this to accommodate larger number of people who would no longer be able to use Sutton swimming pool? The Unison story is very near to the truth. There were strong rumours going round two years ago that I know of that St Helens Council wanted either the school to take over the running of the whole complex when it was a sports academy or get shut and close it which in essence is what happened to some extent whilst the school was an academy. As Sutton High School is no longer a Sports College but an Academy this might no longer be possible as the focus within the school curiculum has changed as a result of the schools status. It would not surprise me one bit that there will be an attempt to sell off the whole leisure centre building to the private sector in the near future. It really makes you wonder how many of these decisions regarding the change of status of the school were part of bigger agenda and deliberately engineered.[/p][/quote]A Machievelian approach to local government, Anthony? I don't thinkk that they are that clever - but you never know! mikeperry109

7:42pm Thu 15 Nov 12

anthonywilson says...

mikeperry109 wrote:
anthonywilson wrote:
janet c wrote:
surely the cost of coaches to transport children for school swimming lessons to parr will eat out a vast amount of the local authorities budget that they are trying supposedly to save. For parents taking children to swimming lessons my advice would be to get there early as parking facilities at Queens Park and Parr are limited. The closure will hit the poorest and most deprived in the community as travel costs to the other pools will obviously be a consideration into how often they are used. Maybe if the lessons are all squashed into Parr and Queens Park there wont be time left for ordinary swimming anyway.
Really good points Janet especially about the potential cost increases of school transport to the other pools further afield and the amount of available parking at the other swimming pools.

Isn't it a coincidence however that the Parr swimming pool recently also has had a new car park built? Was this to accommodate larger number of people who would no longer be able to use Sutton swimming pool?

The Unison story is very near to the truth. There were strong rumours going round two years ago that I know of that St Helens Council wanted either the school to take over the running of the whole complex when it was a sports academy or get shut and close it which in essence is what happened to some extent whilst the school was an academy.
As Sutton High School is no longer a Sports College but an Academy this might no longer be possible as the focus within the school curiculum has changed as a result of the schools status.

It would not surprise me one bit that there will be an attempt to sell off the whole leisure centre building to the private sector in the near future. It really makes you wonder how many of these decisions regarding the change of status of the school were part of bigger agenda and deliberately engineered.
A Machievelian approach to local government, Anthony? I don't thinkk that they are that clever - but you never know!
One or two of them are, but certainly not all!
[quote][p][bold]mikeperry109[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]anthonywilson[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]janet c[/bold] wrote: surely the cost of coaches to transport children for school swimming lessons to parr will eat out a vast amount of the local authorities budget that they are trying supposedly to save. For parents taking children to swimming lessons my advice would be to get there early as parking facilities at Queens Park and Parr are limited. The closure will hit the poorest and most deprived in the community as travel costs to the other pools will obviously be a consideration into how often they are used. Maybe if the lessons are all squashed into Parr and Queens Park there wont be time left for ordinary swimming anyway.[/p][/quote]Really good points Janet especially about the potential cost increases of school transport to the other pools further afield and the amount of available parking at the other swimming pools. Isn't it a coincidence however that the Parr swimming pool recently also has had a new car park built? Was this to accommodate larger number of people who would no longer be able to use Sutton swimming pool? The Unison story is very near to the truth. There were strong rumours going round two years ago that I know of that St Helens Council wanted either the school to take over the running of the whole complex when it was a sports academy or get shut and close it which in essence is what happened to some extent whilst the school was an academy. As Sutton High School is no longer a Sports College but an Academy this might no longer be possible as the focus within the school curiculum has changed as a result of the schools status. It would not surprise me one bit that there will be an attempt to sell off the whole leisure centre building to the private sector in the near future. It really makes you wonder how many of these decisions regarding the change of status of the school were part of bigger agenda and deliberately engineered.[/p][/quote]A Machievelian approach to local government, Anthony? I don't thinkk that they are that clever - but you never know![/p][/quote]One or two of them are, but certainly not all! anthonywilson

11:37am Fri 16 Nov 12

Jo10 says...

I have a relative who works at the school and can confirm that the Principle, Dave Terry has openly spoke to staff about negotiations to acquire the pool for the school since his arrival in 2009. I hear he as many friends within the political arena and is used to getting what he wants.
Despite this, it's worth pointing out that the school is very much ran like a business - there have been senior teacher redundancies (mostly staff prior to Mr Terry's arrival - and the addition if many of his team from his previous school) and the library was closed down in order to make way for flashy new classrooms. No doubt the deal is done and they"ll then bill the council for allowing other schools to use the pool. I am convinced that this is not simply a budget cutting exercise and once again the council don't have the best interest of its constituents at heart.
I have a relative who works at the school and can confirm that the Principle, Dave Terry has openly spoke to staff about negotiations to acquire the pool for the school since his arrival in 2009. I hear he as many friends within the political arena and is used to getting what he wants. Despite this, it's worth pointing out that the school is very much ran like a business - there have been senior teacher redundancies (mostly staff prior to Mr Terry's arrival - and the addition if many of his team from his previous school) and the library was closed down in order to make way for flashy new classrooms. No doubt the deal is done and they"ll then bill the council for allowing other schools to use the pool. I am convinced that this is not simply a budget cutting exercise and once again the council don't have the best interest of its constituents at heart. Jo10

9:40pm Sun 18 Nov 12

parkdale says...

I am appalled that you are considering closing the swimming pool as our family have been using this pool for many years. My four children have all attended swimming lessons there and have become competent swimmers. My youngest who has just turned 9 still goes and is in the stroke development class. Are the council going to fund the extra expense for travelling to the other pools?, as we now able to walk to Sutton.
These swimming lessons teach the children discipline, social skills along with the opportunity to make new friends not to mention a lifesaving skill. It also makes holidays more enjoyable knowing that your children are both confident and competent in the water.
My children’s schools have already said that they will not be able to provide swimming lessons as part of the curriculum due to the added transport costs to get to the other pools.
The pool also provides excellent fun/ enjoyment school holiday activities with inflatable sessions and free swims( at certain times of the day). Where would the children go or do if this was taken away. Would Mill Dam become the alternative?
Will the public be able to know which councillors vote / are on the decision panel for the final say. I bet during election time every one of them will say that it was nothing to do with them. Do we really need three councillors per ward?
Nice to see that after a successful Olympics and the push for greater sport involvement our council decides to take away/ make it harder to participate in this sport for a vast amount of people in the borough.
I am appalled that you are considering closing the swimming pool as our family have been using this pool for many years. My four children have all attended swimming lessons there and have become competent swimmers. My youngest who has just turned 9 still goes and is in the stroke development class. Are the council going to fund the extra expense for travelling to the other pools?, as we now able to walk to Sutton. These swimming lessons teach the children discipline, social skills along with the opportunity to make new friends not to mention a lifesaving skill. It also makes holidays more enjoyable knowing that your children are both confident and competent in the water. My children’s schools have already said that they will not be able to provide swimming lessons as part of the curriculum due to the added transport costs to get to the other pools. The pool also provides excellent fun/ enjoyment school holiday activities with inflatable sessions and free swims( at certain times of the day). Where would the children go or do if this was taken away. Would Mill Dam become the alternative? Will the public be able to know which councillors vote / are on the decision panel for the final say. I bet during election time every one of them will say that it was nothing to do with them. Do we really need three councillors per ward? Nice to see that after a successful Olympics and the push for greater sport involvement our council decides to take away/ make it harder to participate in this sport for a vast amount of people in the borough. parkdale

6:02pm Mon 19 Nov 12

Erics_protege says...

There are lots of similar examples of this all over the country unfortunately.

In many cases, offloading a council run Leisure Facility to a school / school trust results in a massive reduction in provision as the school doesn't want the hassle of running it out of hours (when most people in the community want it).

I drove past Sutton on Sunday morning and it was packed! – Would a school guarantee to open it on a Sunday and keep prices the same to encourage it’s use?

It turns out that St Helens has an “Active St Helens” Strategy launched by Mrs Rimmer and the PCT in May 2010 and covering the period up to 2015. It makes interesting reading: http://www.sthelens.
gov.uk/media/152022/
active_st_helens_doc
ument.pdf
(I have taken a copy just in case the link doesn’t work anymore)

I would draw particular attention to the following...
Page 1 - “We want St Helens to be considered a centre of excellence for sport and physical activity”
Page 2 - “More people, more active, more often”
Page 2 - “We want everyone to have the opportunity to take part in and enjoy sport, physical education or physical activity of his or her choice.”
Page 5 – The annual cost of treating diseases related to inactivity is estimated at “£3.6million” in St Helens.
Page 9 – “52.3% of the adult population in St Helens belong to segments which are less likely than average to participate in sport and active recreation”
Page 9 – “There are no ‘active’ segments larger in St Helens than in the rest of the country” (i.e. we are behind in every age group!!)
Page 10 – “Activity rates are lowest in the borough’s most deprived communities with relatively low levels of participation to the South and East of the Town Centre.” (i.e. Sutton, Bold & Thatto Heath)
Page 14 – “Sutton and Bold have relatively poorer access to quality parks and public sports centres than other areas”
Page 18 – 4 of the 7 wards targeted for improvement are close to Sutton. This rises to 5 if you include the Town Centre which isn’t too far away.

So, the Marie's own strategy document is now being ignored, no doubt they will now remove it from view claiming that government cuts make it impossible to achieve.

This would increase the likelihood of "£3.6million" of health issues in the future and they should hang their heads in shame if their Civil Service legacy is to hang tightly on to their own huge salaries whilst using London as an excuse.

They can stress all they want that this is just "consultation" about mothballing the pool. But in the same breath they also drop in that "unpaletable proposals" are on the way.

I fear the pool is just the start, if the rest of it goes then we would also lose our ONLY athletics track, 2/7 Squash Courts in the Town, 1/3 of the Public Sports Halls and 1/4 of the floodlight artificial football pitches from page 12 of the report.

If full disposal isn't on the table then how about a front page promise from Mrs Rimmer?
There are lots of similar examples of this all over the country unfortunately. In many cases, offloading a council run Leisure Facility to a school / school trust results in a massive reduction in provision as the school doesn't want the hassle of running it out of hours (when most people in the community want it). I drove past Sutton on Sunday morning and it was packed! – Would a school guarantee to open it on a Sunday and keep prices the same to encourage it’s use? It turns out that St Helens has an “Active St Helens” Strategy launched by Mrs Rimmer and the PCT in May 2010 and covering the period up to 2015. It makes interesting reading: http://www.sthelens. gov.uk/media/152022/ active_st_helens_doc ument.pdf (I have taken a copy just in case the link doesn’t work anymore) I would draw particular attention to the following... Page 1 - “We want St Helens to be considered a centre of excellence for sport and physical activity” Page 2 - “More people, more active, more often” Page 2 - “We want everyone to have the opportunity to take part in and enjoy sport, physical education or physical activity of his or her choice.” Page 5 – The annual cost of treating diseases related to inactivity is estimated at “£3.6million” in St Helens. Page 9 – “52.3% of the adult population in St Helens belong to segments which are less likely than average to participate in sport and active recreation” Page 9 – “There are no ‘active’ segments larger in St Helens than in the rest of the country” (i.e. we are behind in every age group!!) Page 10 – “Activity rates are lowest in the borough’s most deprived communities with relatively low levels of participation to the South and East of the Town Centre.” (i.e. Sutton, Bold & Thatto Heath) Page 14 – “Sutton and Bold have relatively poorer access to quality parks and public sports centres than other areas” Page 18 – 4 of the 7 wards targeted for improvement are close to Sutton. This rises to 5 if you include the Town Centre which isn’t too far away. So, the Marie's own strategy document is now being ignored, no doubt they will now remove it from view claiming that government cuts make it impossible to achieve. This would increase the likelihood of "£3.6million" of health issues in the future and they should hang their heads in shame if their Civil Service legacy is to hang tightly on to their own huge salaries whilst using London as an excuse. They can stress all they want that this is just "consultation" about mothballing the pool. But in the same breath they also drop in that "unpaletable proposals" are on the way. I fear the pool is just the start, if the rest of it goes then we would also lose our ONLY athletics track, 2/7 Squash Courts in the Town, 1/3 of the Public Sports Halls and 1/4 of the floodlight artificial football pitches from page 12 of the report. If full disposal isn't on the table then how about a front page promise from Mrs Rimmer? Erics_protege

12:02am Wed 21 Nov 12

anthonywilson says...

How long before St Helens experiences cuts like this which Newcastle are having to make? A Swimming pool and ten libraries to close?

http://www.bbc.co.uk
/news/uk-england-tyn
e-20415505
How long before St Helens experiences cuts like this which Newcastle are having to make? A Swimming pool and ten libraries to close? http://www.bbc.co.uk /news/uk-england-tyn e-20415505 anthonywilson

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