Bedlington swimming pool saved from closure after councillor’s donation

A POPULAR pool where thousands of children have learned to swim has been saved from closure after vital financial support was found to keep it afloat.

Children at Bedlington Swimming Pool, at St Benet Biscop RC High School
Children at Bedlington Swimming Pool, at St Benet Biscop RC High School

A POPULAR pool where thousands of children have learned to swim has been saved from closure after vital financial support was found to keep it afloat.

Bedlington Swimming School, at the town’s St Benet Biscop RC High School, has provided school and private swimming lessons, and hosted aqua fitness classes and other activities, since the pool was re-opened as a private business in 2008.

For the past year businessman Paul Stocks and his partner Denise Wilson, who run the school, have had to close the pool on a regular basis after tests showed that the water was not safe to use because of high chloramine levels.

They spent a fortune on investigating the problem, which was eventually found to be caused by nitrates getting into the water through a worn and porous pool lining.

The solution was to completely replace the lining, but Paul and Denise were unable to meet the £15,000 cost, so the pool – which employs four staff – was closed seven weeks ago.

Local county councillor Val Tyler, whose three grandchildren learned to swim at the pool, was so concerned that she immediately told Paul that she would come up with the money to re-open it.

Coun Tyler, who represents Bedlington East, donated cash from her members’ small schemes allowance to pay for a new pool liner, and get the swimming school back in business.

Yesterday local youngsters were invited along for a free, three-hour swimming session to celebrate the re-opening.

Paul, who leases the pool building from the county council, said: “We have invested every penny we had in the business and then we were hit by this massive problem with the water, which was caused by nitrates getting in through the pool lining and reacting with the chlorine in the pool. Since April 1 we have been closed for a total of a month, but basically the water was not safe and I would never let children or staff into the pool if it was not 100%.

“We spent our savings trying to find out what the problem was, and by the time we discovered the pool needed a new liner we didn’t have the funds left to pay the £14,400 cost. Seven weeks ago we called the staff in and told them we were closing down.

“Val Tyler heard about it and said she would provide the money for a new liner for the pool. We are just so, so grateful to her, and have been overwhelmed by the support we have had from the council.”

Coun Tyler said: “Children and adults come from all over the area to use the Bedlington pool, and it is a vital asset for the community which I feel has to be retained.

“I was told Paul had been forced to close it so I immediately asked him to get estimates for the work required and said I would pay for it through my members’ allowance. That money is meant to be spent on capital schemes for the betterment of the community, and this scheme clearly fits the bill.”

We have invested every penny we had and then we were hit by this massive problem

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