Top politician says closure of Ponds Forge leisure pool has ‘let Sheffield down’

A leading Sheffield politician said Sheffield City Trust has let the city down by closing its main leisure pool during the summer holidays.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 4:40 pm

The Trust – which runs several key sites around the city including City Hall and Sheffield Arena – announced it would close the main leisure pool at Ponds Forge “for the foreseeable future” to fix maintenance issues caused during lockdown.

It said all leisure swimming customers would be automatically refunded and lessons relocated.

It follows millions of pounds worth of bailouts by Sheffield Council, its main funder, over the past few years and damning reports that showed it was “hemorrhaging cash” and “draining” its bank account.

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Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed.

In this year’s council budget, an additional £12 million was put aside to support leisure and entertainment facilities.

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of Sheffield Liberal Democrats, said: “It’s very disappointing that just as we come out of lockdown and when lots of people are likely not going to be going away for the holidays, the major leisure facility in the city is going to be taken out of action.

“The council gave them substantial amounts of money last year, parts of which we were told was to keep these places maintained. So the question that begs an answer is: why weren’t these maintained? And more importantly, what actions will Sheffield Council be taking against SCT now in terms of not being able to fulfil its obligations to run leisure facilities in our city? It’s totally unacceptable.

“At the moment we are getting poor value for money.”

The council previously agreed to stop subsidy of SCT by 2020 but recognised at least a year before that this was “unachievable” and has continued to provide millions of pounds to keep it afloat.

Councillor Terry Fox, leader of Sheffield Council, said: “Families across Sheffield will have been making plans for the school holidays and looking forward to spending time at Ponds Forge as they do every year. Alongside this, the Olympics will be on television inspiring youngsters across the nation, many of which will want to hit the swimming pool. I’m so disappointed by the terrible timing of closing the leisure pool and I urge SCT to make their safety checks and maintenance works immediately to get the pool back open to the public.”