Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by Manchester Victoria Baths Trust

BRITAIN'S HISTORIC SWIMMING POOLS—THE CASE FOR NATIONAL SUPPORT

  1.  Despite the policy of "Sport for All" facilities for swimming are being reduced—there needs to be more local facilities, not fewer, grander, centralised facilities. Our pools are mostly situated in very poor areas, where most people will not swim regularly unless they can walk to a local pool. The current trend flies in the face of the Government's policy on social exclusion, community involvement in regeneration, joined up government.

  2.  Historic swimming pools represent an important aspect of working class heritage. They are of national importance and deserve national recognition. Their survival cannot be left to local authorities who simply see them as a burden to council tax payers. All swimming pools are expensive to run, historic swimming pools more so, yet we have to prove a water-tight business case to get any capital funding for restoration. This is very difficult to achieve, as the Victoria Baths case illustrates. How can ongoing financial support be provided? (The state makes provision for redundant churches.)

  3.  Swimming has a key role to play in improving health—but only if local facilities are retained and restored. Swimming is a popular and easy sport to participate in, if you don't have to travel far. Children need to be able to walk to their local pool, and adults too if they are to swim regularly enough to improve health. Swimming is also a great cure for depression and a major liberation for older people and disabled people. How can the potential health benefits be quantified, and relevant funding therefore found?

  4.  Can we have ministerial intervention in these issues generally and with the specific pools which we represent? Keeping these pools closed is costing council tax payers and tax payers many millions of pounds in the long run, as the buildings deteriorate and security is paid to keep a facility closed.

  5.  Joined-up government. Meeting more than one public policy aim should make it easier to get capital funding, but multiple funding applications are a complete headache as each funder has different procedures and time-scales. How can the move to joined-up government help us in practice?

9 August 2001


 
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