Northam Pool in Torridge is set to reopen after a funding support for 1610, who operate leisure facilities across Torridge, has been agreed – but Torrington and Holsworthy will remain closed.
Torridge District Council on Monday night agreed to the funding request that would enable the reopening of Northam Pool, albeit at a reduced capacity and with other restrictions.
The funding approved on Monday will therefore go towards the costs of recommissioning the Northam Pool facility to open, which includes extra Covid-19 measures such as screens, sanitiser stations and signage.
It also includes contributions towards the costs 1610 incurred whilst all facilities have been closed since March 2020 and to support them for the period up until March 2021.
But a decision on whether to reopen Torrington Pool, as well as Holsworthy Leisure Centre, were deferred to enable further discussions to take place and for the full extent of costs to be established and reported back.
Torrington Pool is temporarily inoperable due to the discovery of asbestos uncovered during recent roofing works, and the works to remove the asbestos and complete the roof repairs are currently in progress and forecast to be completed in the New Year.
Holsworthy Leisure Centre had remained closed since March 2020 and 1610 had stipulated that it is not possible to operate safely under Covid-19 regulations, but council officers are currently working with 1610 to explore the possibilities and options for reopening facilities at Holsworthy.
Steve Hearse, the council’s chief executive, told Monday’s meeting that they have identified some changes that could be made in order for it to meet Covid regulations will be discussing the options and costs of the changes, but there would be an additional cost of around £20,000 per month to operate.
Cllr Jon Hutchings said there were many people pleading for Holsworthy to reopen across all age ranges, and that there was a great need for it, while Cllr David Jones added: “It is absolutely imperative that we get this open again. This facility needs to remain there and be open once more.”
Cllr Anna Dart added: “I have to pass on the expressions of dismay that I received when I told my parishes that the pool wouldn’t be reopening. Some residents expressed there is a genuine need for the pool and they want it open as soon as possible.”
Having gone into private session to discuss confidential financial arrangements, councillors then returned to a public session where a motion to agree the finances required for the reopening of Northam Pool but to defer a decision on Torrington Pool, as well as Holsworthy Leisure Centre, had been put forward. This was then backed by 24 votes to 13 by the council.