Angry swimmers left high and dry

Swimmers outside Mill House Leisure Centre
Swimmers outside Mill House Leisure Centre

ANGRY swimmers have hit out at changes that will stop them from using public baths for morning sessions.

Users of Mill House Leisure Centre in Hartlepool slammed leisure bosses after being told they will have to be out of the swimming pool by 9am to make way for school children.

Swimmer Margaret Gavin, 65, says the changes will affect dozens of customers, including many pensioners, who swim for health reasons.

Mrs Gavin, who pays £90 a year to use the pool, said: “We don’t object to children learning to swim.

“We just can’t understand why something couldn’t have been organised where children either use it in afternoons or at a better time.

“A lot of people go because we have been referred by doctors or the hospital to keep us fit, and now they’re taking it away from us.

“Our argument is it’s a public swimming pool and the public aren’t going to be allowed to use it as such, only at strange times.

“We’re all really annoyed about it.”

From April, swimmers will not be able to use the pool between 9am and noon as it looks to save money because of financial presures.

Mrs Gavin, from Dyke House, added: “We know that there has to be cutbacks but feel that this is absolutely crazy.

“Surely it could be arranged for an 30 minutes or so access to paying customers rather than losing them.”

A council spokesman said: “We carried out an hour-by-hour, day-by-day analysis of business which showed that between 9am and noon the cost of staffing the pool currently far exceeds the income generated.

“From April, therefore, we intend to maximise use of the pool by reserving the 9am-noon session to cater exclusively for primary school swimming tuition during term-time.

“We are sorry if the proposed changes inconvenience people, and we would be happy to refund the money that Mrs Gavin has paid.

“However, we remain committed to trying to cater for the needs of all our customers and it is important to point out that there will still be a range of adult-only and general swimming opportunities both during term-time and during school holidays.”