Re: Ennerdale Swimming Pool
We write to express our opposition to the proposal, currently being consulted on, to close the swimming pool at Ennerdale Leisure Centre.
We fully acknowledge that this option is only being forced on Labour councillors by the unfair and disproportionately heavy funding cuts being imposed on Hull City Council by the Lib Dem-backed Coalition Government.
As you know, each person in Hull, the country’s tenth most deprived area, will lose £228.36 between 2010 and 2015 in funding to Hull – equating to £90m coming out of the Council’s budget. Meanwhile, Surrey Heath, the 324th most deprived area, loses only £24.54 per head over the same period.
This is why we launched the Fair Deal for Hull campaign earlier this year on the issue of the distribution of local government funding from Whitehall. This campaign is opposed by Lib Dem Opposition Group in Hull. This is not surprising, given that without Lib Dem support for the Tories in the Coalition such unjust treatment of Hull would not have been possible in the first place.
For our part, we voted against these cuts to Hull in Parliament and we will continue to promote the Fair Deal for Hull at every opportunity. As part of this campaign we also support the campaign by users of Ennerdale to save their swimming pool.
We hope that you will also work with users of Ennerdale to explore every possible idea and option that would keep this pool open for Hull residents.
There are a series of reasons why Ennerdale should be the last pool that should be considered for closure in Hull – not the first.
· Ennerdale is the only pool in Hull capable of holding competitive galas, having both a 25m pool and spectator area. Ennerdale also has the best training facilities. Because of these assets, Ennerdale is the only swimming facility in Hull that is accredited by the Amateur Swimming Association to be of competition standard. As such Ennerdale serves the whole of the City in a way that no other leisure pool in Hull does or could.
· Both East Hull Baths and Beverley Road Baths are Victorian-era amenities that require investment. Although listed status of certain buildings shows the need for preserving the fabric of the buildings, their actual long-term function should not be dictated by these considerations - not over and above the needs of providing the best possible sports and leisure facilities for Hull’s modern needs within the available resources.
· All Hull’s swimming pools require investment in maintenance and have had rising heating costs. However, Ennerdale Leisure Centre has the lowest subsidy of any leisure facility in Hull and the highest percentage of its costs covered by income.
· Kingston upon Hull Swimming Club has around 230 swimming members and the club broke even for the first time this year. Without Ennerdale it is likely that the club will cease to exist, and the extra revenue brought into the local area from visiting competitive swimmers and spectators will be lost. What good will ‘arms-length’ arrangements for running Hull leisure amenities be if we see sports clubs disappearing?
· It has been suggested that alternative pool facilities exist near to Ennerdale at the Winifred Holtby Academy. This is not an option as Winifred Holtby does not have competition facilities, and is not a local authority amenity available openly to the public.
· The current distribution of swimming facilities in the city is broadly even, but the closure of Ennerdale will mean that residents of the large estates of Orchard Park, Bransholme and Kingswood will have much further to travel to access a swimming pool. Kingswood has been rapidly expanding, and facilities such as local swimming pools are important in attracting new residents to the area.
· Finally, Hull is meant to be a proud sporting city, seeking an Olympic 2012 legacy and competing for City of Culture 2017, with a wish to attract visitors from outside Hull. We are all aware of the public health challenge presented locally by obesity. Under Labour, Hull previously pursued some pioneering initiatives on this – such as on free healthy school meals. How does closing Ennerdale fit with any of these policy objectives?
Hull City Council has supported Ennerdale for 30 years. We know that the only thing that has changed is the unfair treatment on funding under this Coalition Government.
For our part, we will do everything possible to get a Fair Deal for Hull. Part of this means working imaginatively to secure a future for important facilities serving the whole city, such as Ennerdale.
In this, I hope that your Labour administration can play a part by keeping Ennerdale swimming pool for the people of Hull.
Diana Johnson MP Alan Johnson MP Karl Turner MP
Hull North Hull West and Hessle Hull East
cc All Hull Labour councillors