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Loss-making pool barely open at weekends

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 11.59.50LLANDOVERY’S indoor swimming pool lost £124,680 in 2015-16, and is forecast to lose at least £120,000 in the current year and in each of the two subsequent years. 

The pool, owned by Carmarthenshire County Council, and on the site of the closed Pantycelyn Comprehensive School, costs around £200,000 a year to run and customers pay 40% of this, about £80,000.

The figures are included in the County Council’s accounts for 2015- 16 and budgets for 2016-17 to 2018- 19.

Amman Valley swimming pool in Ammanford costs four times as much to operate, an expected £782,000 in 2016-17, but paying customers are forecast to contribute £543,000 this year, seven times more than at Llandovery. The upshot is that the net cost of the Amman Valley pool is only twice that of Llandovery.

Part of the problem at Llandovery appears to be the restricted opening hours, including total closure on Saturdays, when many people would have time to swim. Even on Sundays, the pool is open for only four-and-a-half hours, from 10am to 2.30pm and thus including lunchtime.

At Amman Valley, in contrast, the pool is open from 9am to 4pm on both Saturday and Sunday, in term time and school holidays.

Open access to Llandovery’s main pool for recreational and lane swimming is limited to 25.75 hours a week, just 42% of the total opening time, during school terms. For the majority of time, the pool is booked for school swimming and formal lessons. At Amman Valley, though, the general public can swim for 59% of the longer hours the main pool is open, and at more convenient times during weekends.

There is better public access at both Llandovery and Amman Valley during school holidays, but at Llandovery some of the recreational sessions – weekday afternoons between 3.30pm and 4pm – are only 30 minutes and thus hardly merit a journey from outside the town.

Carmarthenshire County Council Head of Leisure, Ian Jones, commented: “We are constantly reviewing usage against costs at all of our facilities, but also have to factor in geographic and political priorities as part of this equation.”