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Why Britain’s swimming pools are shutting for summer

National chlorine shortage and rising energy costs blamed for closures and reduced services

Chiara Giordano
Wednesday 15 June 2022 13:00 BST
A number of swimming pools have closed amid national chlorine shortages and rising energy costs
A number of swimming pools have closed amid national chlorine shortages and rising energy costs (Getty Images)

A national chlorine shortage and rising energy costs are forcing public swimming pools to close their doors this summer.

Pools in several parts of the UK have reduced services or announced temporary closures in recent weeks.

Others are thought to be weighing up cost-saving measures such as lowering pool temperatures and dimming lights to keep running as the cost-of-living crisis bites.

The chlorine shortage has been blamed on several factors, including Brexit, a backlog from China’s supply chain caused by Covid-19, a significant fire in a US chemical plant in late 2020, and the war in Ukraine.

Signs have appeared in some leisure centres urging people to help pools stay open by taking steps to keep the water as clean as possible such as showering and using the toilet before swimming and avoiding using lotions, deodorants and perfumes beforehand.

The SnowDome, in Tamworth, has had its 25-metre, junior and toddler pools closed to swimmers since Sunday because of the national chlorine shortage, according to BirminghamLive.

Last month, The Guardian reported Saxon Pool in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, had closed to general swimmers and cancelled most sessions for the same reason.

Users were reportedly told via email: “Unfortunately, due to a nationwide issue, SLL have been unable to secure orders of pool chemicals from Europe which is essential to operate the pool fully.”

Runnymede Leisure Centre in Benfleet also had to close its pool one weekend in April after running out of Melclorite, a type of chlorine.

The chemical comes from Japan and is supplied by a German company which has reported global supply issues which have been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, The Guardian said.

Leisure World in Colchester is closing its fitness and teaching pools to the public for several days to ensure chlorine supplies last as long as possible amid shortages.

Councillor Adam Fox, deputy leader of Colchester Borough Council, told EssexLive: “We know that many other swimming pools across the country are having to close, and by acting now we can prolong our chlorine supplies and continue to offer sessions and classes for all demographics across our wide range of swimming facilities.

“We are monitoring our supplies closely and are in contact with our chemical suppliers to ensure we are in the best place possible to keep services operating.”

Swimming pools have also been affected in Norwich, Brighton and Aberdeen.

Leeds City Council told LeedsLiveits pools were so far unaffected and the installation of solar panels and heat pumps across its estate would save its leisure centres both gas and money.

A survey by UKActive this month suggested 85 per cent of public pool operators would be forced to reduce services in the next six months to cope with demand.

The non-profit warned it could mean hundreds, and potentially thousands, of leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools may be lost as a result of huge rises in energy costs, which are estimated to have risen from a sector total of £500m in 2019 to between £1.0bn and £1.2bn in 2022.

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