Popular Sheffield community swimming pool remains closed and facing financial challenges

A popular swimming pool has been forced to remain closed following a string of maintenance issues.

Friday, 6th December 2019, 9:51 am
Updated Friday, 6th December 2019, 5:53 pm
Matthew Dean outside the Zest Centre

The pool at Zest Centre in Upperthorpe was due to reopen following a boiler installation after the heating system broke on November 4, however its return has been stopped in its tracks due to a burst pipe.

It is now expected to be closed for another two weeks while this issue is fixed, leaving regulars without a local swimming pool.

Matthew Dean, chief executive of Zest Centre, said: “A new boiler has now been installed, and the second phase of works to renew the pipework begins next week. One of the many challenges of managing a beautiful but ageing Victorian facility!

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The Zest centre in Upperthorpe

“There are, of course, financial implications regarding the improvement works and lost revenue as a result of the closure.

“Some of our funding to run the pool comes from Sheffield City Council, and we are working with a very supportive team of officers to explore funding solutions, and ensure we can keep this wonderful community facility on a stable footing.

“We are hoping to be back open before Christmas.”

A statement on the Zest website adds: “The timescale has clearly been longer than we originally envisaged and we appreciate that this is becoming increasingly frustrating for our customer base. “We sincerely apologise and thank you for your continued understanding.

“As a local community organisation and charity, this has created considerable financial challenges.

“To this end, we are working with our Local Authority partners and others to make the case about the value of the Zest Centre and the need to support this vital local facility.”

The community centre has set up a survey that members can fill in on their website to write why they need the community centre to help generate support.

It has had a hugely positive response, with members writing in to express how much they value the facilities at the centre.

One person wrote: “Keep Zest baths going for all! I have swum at Upperthorpe baths/zest for about 40 years now. I have also swam elsewhere but always return because of the warmth (not just in the pool), accessibility and flexibility of Zest.

“A few burst pipes and the cold weather cannot stop a great community resource.”

Mr Dean has been in talks with the Sheffield City Council, which provides some of the funding for the centre, about potential financial support for maintenance and repair work for the building.

The Zest Centre was originally built as Upperthorpe Branch Library in 1874, with a public swimming baths added in 1895. It includes a library, GP surgeries and classrooms.