Council clarifies position on return of leisure facilities at Harrogate's Hydro pool
The fears were raised by Harrogate District Diving Club, the club where Olympic Gold Medallist Jack Laugher learnt to dive, after it learnt no date had yet been set by the council for the resumption of training sessions at the pool,
The club's chair Leanne Jalland claims the council is "prioritising wealth over health" when it comes to deciding how to reopen the publically-owned pool at Jennyfield Drive after the Government's decision to allow swimming pools to reopen earlier this month.
She said: "While we were successful with Swim England lobbying the government to reopen pools, unfortunately our local council does not seem to believe that clubs, squads and lessons for our children is a priority for the return to pools. We have heard rumours that the Hydro does not plan on clubs returning to pools before September 2021."
But Harrogate Borough Council said it had made no decision at all yet on the date for restarting leisure facilities, including the diving club.
A council spokesperson said matters such as swimming lessons, school swimming, Aquafit, swimming squads, studio sessions, as well as diving, would all need to be evaluated on their staffing needs and customer safety.
A council spokesperson said: “We are working hard to reintroduce leisure facilities for all our residents – not just the diving club – but we need to make sure this is done in line with Government guidelines so that our customers, and staff, are kept safe. We will then look at what additional services can be offered over the coming weeks."
Harrogate District Diving Club and the council are intertwined to such an extent that the club's coaches are council employees and the squad members pay the council monthly fees.
But the diving club says communication from the council's culture, tourism and sport department on this issue has been poor.
And it also claims the council's decision to put two extra swimming lanes in the diving pool and charge for public swimming shows that financial questions are being put first.
But Harrogate Borough Council said any decision to restart leisure facilities including the diving club would require more staffing at a time when dealing with the pandemic was the council's central focus.
A council spokesperson said “The diving club has received several emails explaining this position already.
“We are planning to make the lanes in the main pool wider, as well as utilising the multi-use activity pool, to help segregate swimmers and give more people the opportunity to swim should they wish to do so.
"Diving is one of a number of activities which we will be considering how to reintroduce at the Hydro.
"There are considerations for swimming lessons, school swimming, Aquafit, swimming squads, studio sessions amongst many others – this isn’t just about diving.
"All of these need to be evaluated on their staffing needs (staff who are supporting other services) and how we can ensure customer safety.
"At this stage we cannot provide a date for return for diving, nor the other aforementioned."
Nationwide the picture for public swimming pools is not looking good.
Nearly a third of England’s public leisure centres are still closed because of local authorities' growing financial crisis during lockdown
While privately-owned gyms such as PureGym and David Lloyd are in the process of reopening, many of the country’s 2,116 council-owned sites are yet to announce a date for a return.
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