West Wales News Review — analysis with a sustainability slant

How Much Longer Will Llandovery Keep its Swimming Pool?

How much longer will Llandovery keep its swimming pool?

The pool is part of the complex of buildings at Ysgol Gyfun Pantycelyn, Llandovery – a comprehensive school which the local authority, Carmarthenshire County Council, has decided to close.

Indoor heated swimming pools are so expensive to run! Llandovery’s ran up bills of £18,894 for electricity in 2011-12, and £15,198 for gas. The rates bill was a huge £21,566, and the attendants cost £66,024, according to the county council’s accounts for the year. In addition, the pool had to bear a charge of £27,138 as a “contribution to equal pay provision”.

Income from leisure swimmers at the pool, £23,072, was over £10,000 less than the combined gas and electricity bills. Course fees of £15,703 bridged that gap, and the vending machine contributed £1,451, but the net cost of operating the pool was still £158,665 – or £56.67 for every one of the 2,800[1] or so men, women and children living in the Llandovery electoral ward.

That’s a lot of subsidy – but is it too much? How can rural areas be provided with sports facilities unless they are heavily subsidised? Should we even have heated indoor pools, given the quantities of fuel they consume?  Could we construct every new swimming pool to be energy-neutral? Maybe use thermal solar panels and get used to colder water?

It would be sad to remove all subsidised leisure services from small towns, which would find it harder and harder to retain their  populations, given the erosion of all other services – schools, shops, pubs, all shutting their doors. Somehow, though, the financial and energy costs of sports and leisure venues must come down, to make them affordable for both the environment and for taxpayers.

The unknown future of Llandovery’s pool also prompts the question, what will happen to the buildings of Ysgol Gyfun Pantycelyn when the school has closed? There are a large hall, playing fields, gym, laboratories, technology rooms…

What about a centre for craft and technology businesses? Llandovery sorely needs sustainable jobs, and more people working locally would be good for the environment and should also supply new swimmers for the pool – after it has been retrofitted for super energy efficiency!

Pat Dodd Racher, August 3rd 2012

[1] Population estimates for mid 2010.


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