‘It’s devastating for our swimmers’ - Plea to keep lidos open during lockdown
- Credit: Archant
The director of a popular lido that launched a winter timetable for the first time has shared his concerns about closing pools in the second lockdown.
Shaun Crowley, chief executive of Beccles Lido, has written to Waveney MP Peter Aldous to urge the government to make lidos exempt once again after being deemed safer than indoor pools back in July.
The lido reopened on July 20 having lost eight weeks of the 15 week season and around £100,000 in income following the first lockdown.
Sessions have continued into October with plans to launch a winter timetable, until the business was told it would be closing on Wednesday evening.
Swimming pools are among the indoor and outdoor facilities that will be required to close as part of the second national lockdown.
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Mr Crowley said: “Our lifeguards are all on zero hours contracts – what else could we do this season, so full of uncertainty? But they have had regular hours, earned good wages, and were assured of more as we launched our winter timetable, now what? We fear the furlough system may not cover them. For our swimmers, it’s devastation.
“We are operating at no more than breakeven, maybe even less for some sessions but we are a community pool – we owe it to the community and to the swimmers who have showed such patience and loyalty this season.”
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He said if the pool did not reopen by December 2, temperatures would likely drop to 8c or less, and could see the lido close until spring.
In summer 2019, the Lido welcomed 1,107 visitors but this year had to limit the number firstly to 20 lane swimmers per session, then 44.
The business has been attracting club swimmers from over East Anglia, who do not have access to training pools.
Last winter, £600,000 in refurbishments were carried out, including £100,000 from its reserves, which it hoped to recoup in its May to July operations.
Mr Crowley said: “Running a profitable operation under these restrictions, especially given the new Covid PPE and cleaning overheads, was always going to be a challenge but nonetheless, after we extended our season from early September to end September we had 24,000 visitors, compared with 45,000 in 2019, and made a modest profit. It was a very different experience, 1 hour pre-booked sessions rather than stay all day, no sunbathing, no café but somehow it worked and the feedback was almost unanimous in its praise for our efforts and for how safe visitors felt.
On October 4, the lido switched the boilers off and now face the challenge of trying to replace the boiler, which will costs £30,000, a “real challenge” due to the pandemic.