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Lib Dems: Protect swimming pools and leisure centres from closure with “critical health infrastructure” status

by Ian Shires on 30 April, 2024

Lockdown to Locked Up? – Why your local swimming pool may never reopen

The Liberal Democrats have called for swimming pools and leisure centres to be designated as “critical health infrastructure” to protect them from closure.

It comes as new analysis by the party shows 266 local authority swimming pools and 261 leisure facilities have been closed since 2015.

Once new openings are taken into account, there has been a net loss of 31 local authority swimming pools and 19 leisure facilities since 2015.

A series of Parliamentary Questions from Helen Morgan MP to Ministers showed year on year closure of swimming pools across the country alongside the loss of leisure centres.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a new national designation to safeguard local health and leisure facilities from closure. This would enshrine protections into law, meaning central and local government would have a legal duty not to cut these services and must maintain adequate funding to keep them open as they’re critical to the nation’s health.

This would be similar to the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) designation, which protects facilities providing essential services such as water supply and energy. The new designation for critical health infrastructure would ensure that even in tough financial periods, facilities that boost the nation’s health are maintained.

The Liberal Democrats have blamed the closures on funding cuts from the Conservatives. They are calling on the government to support Councils and come up with the funds to support facilities that have been hit hard by the lack of local Government funding.

The Party are today also calling for local government to be fairly funded and for the Government to close the current £4 billion funding gap immediately identified by the cross-party local government Select Committee.

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said:Daisy Cooper MP 🔶 (@libdemdaisy) / X

Swinging Conservative cuts to local councils have led to swimming pools, leisure centres and other facilities closing, leaving too many communities without access to safe and affordable health and fitness facilities.

Across the country, local people of all ages rely on these amazing facilities to improve their physical and mental health, to socialise and rehabilitate.

In the middle of a public health crisis, these closures are a false economy.

Swimming pools and leisure centres are so important to local communities and for the health of the nation, that’s why we’re calling for new laws from the government to ensure they’re protected.

We must stop the Conservatives tearing apart local communities and the best way to do that is by sending them a message they can’t ignore in the local elections on the 2nd May.

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