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Philip Evans


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SEATON: School pool makes £10,000 loss

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


SEATON?councillors were shocked to hear that the swimming pool at the primary school made a an annual loss of £10,000 which could result in the facility being withdrawn from public use.
Seaton Primary School was awarded funding from East Devon District Council in 2012 which was used to improve the swimming pool facilities. Since then the pool has been used as a community facility by parents and members of the public, run by Leisure East Devon (LED).
But as a result of the district council needing to find savings from its leisure facilities, LED have stated that they are no longer in a position to continue to subsidise the Seaton pool facility and is seeking financial support. East Devon Council has pledged a sum of £5,000 on the basis that this can be matched by the town council, either from existing council budgets or by a fundraising campaign organised by councillors.
In a report to last week’s full council meeting, town clerk Christopher Drake told councillors that their reserves had already been earmarked for a number of projects in the town, including the seafront enhancement, Seaton Jurassic and the Timeline at Cliff Field Gardens.
Mr Drake said the council had a grant budget each year with a current surplus of £4,000.
Lifeguards biggest expense
Marcus Allen, the east area manager for LED, attended the meeting to give the background to the financial situation regarding the primary school pool.
He confirmed that the pool would make a loss of £10,000 in the current financial year, with the biggest expense being the employment of lifeguards.
MrAllen told the meeting: “We still want to run the pool and make it a success for use by families.”
Councillor Mark Fisher, stressing that the pool had received 106 agreement money, pointed out that the people of Seaton were, in fact, being asked to pay twice for the pool facility. He thought this was “a terrible” idea, adding: “I ask you not to take this facility away from Seaton but to look elsewhere for your budget savings.”
Councillor Tony Woodman said he was in a quandary over whether they should give £5,000 for something that could benefit the whole community, as swimming was such a healthy pastime, or whether the council should be funding it.
He continued: “I am more than a little concerned that if we agree to this grant then we will find ourselves giving this kind of amount, if not more, every year in the future. This could be something where the district council again passes the buck for something it should be providing and makes it something we end up having to fund. If we commit ourselves there could be no way back in the future.
“We also have to consider the effects the Seaton Heights development will have, assuming it goes ahead. There will be swimming facilities there and this could have a major impact on the numbers using the school pool.
“Futhermore we have no budget for this. Our funds are already allocated for the next financial year and at the finance committee we looked very seriously at all expenditure when we set the budget.
“It is my view that the provision of such facilities is the job of the district council - not the town council. I am not impressed by the suggestion that we should organise some kind of fund raising campaign for this. If the district council sees this as an option then maybe it should organise such a campaign. I would add that if district council employees at the Knowle paid to park each day as the rest of us do then there would easily be enough money to fund this.
“I don’t want this facility to close but that is my fear if we don’t find the money needed. However, should we be blackmailed into funding it. I think not.
“It is clear from the figures were have been given that the running of this pool makes a thumping loss and we have to decide whether we are prepared to foot the bill.”
Councillor John Mwakin said the council should take into consideratiion the usage figures at the pool before making a decision. In May of last year 95 people used the pool and in June the figure was only 86.
Councillor Peter Burrows said he was one of Seaton’s district councillors but he had received no information about the financial situation at the pool. He was horrified that they had been presented with this situation in March when budgets for the following year had already been set.
He told the meeting: “This is ridiculous. We have not been given enough time. They would have known about these costs much earlier in the year. It is an insult.”
Vice-chairman Sharon Briuce said she had been involved with the school pool project as a parent and member of the PTA and she called for more facts and figures about the situation.
On the suggestion of Councillor Woodman, it was agreed to hold a special meeting of the council on March 30th to discuss the request for match funding.

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