Fringe Box



‘Hiking Guildford Lido Costs May Be Only Option’

Published on: 29 Aug, 2022
Updated on: 30 Aug, 2022

The Guildford Lido

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

Guildford residents have been issued a warning by the local council over the price of using swimming pools and leisure facilities as increased fuel costs loom.

Councillors have discussed the proposed £2 million improvements to the town’s lido, with the leader reminding a meeting that leisure services were discretionary and often subsidised by the authority.

Guildford Borough Council’s Executive heard that due to sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, larch wood grown in the UK had needed to be sourced for improvements to the town’s lido.

This would turn out to be more expensive than the originally planned Siberian larch, according to Council Leader Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Christchurch).

The works, which are needed because the pool’s original drainage system has failed and needs replacing, are scheduled to take place over the winter, in a project that could cost more than £2 million.

Cllr Bigmore told the meeting on Thursday (August 25): “Leisure services are discretionary. We don’t have to provide a lido, we don’t have to provide these things.

“But we’re in a fortunate position where this council can and I think residents should be aware that a fair chunk of council tax, and other revenues the council gets, goes to subsidising some of these facilities for their use and their enjoyment.

“I think that’s the point the council should be making loudly. Also, with not just the lido, with the energy price increases, it is getting increasingly more expensive, to the factor of two or three, to deliver ice rinks, hot swimming pools, and the like.

“That’s something we’re going to have to address soon, and hopefully not increase cost too much to residents.

“Unfortunately, that may be the only option so that’s something we’re going to have to look at.”

Earlier this month, the council’s leader told the LDRS that the additional energy costs in the coming months could cost the borough council close to £2 million.

He said with street cleaning vehicles that did six miles to the gallon, and the Spectrum leisure centre that has an ice rink and a swimming pool, bills would be increasing.

Speaking before the meeting, Cllr Bigmore added: “Our bills are tripling, quadrupling the same as everyone else’s, and the government has not yet said it’s going to be supporting local authorities.”

See also: Guildford Lido Could Get £2 Million Refurbishment

Councillors in the meeting agreed the repairs were needed at the lido, though Cllr Bigmore described a “hung chamber” in the pronunciation of the word, whether lee-do or lie-do.

Officers confirmed the outdoor pool made an operating surplus around once every five years, and that even hotter summers were no guarantee of higher turnover because of increased costs for staffing and chemicals.

The council is responsible for the drainage system at the 1930s site, but day-to-day it is run by Freedom Leisure on behalf of the authority under the Leisure Partnership Agreement (LPA).

Councillors agreed a move £600,000 from the authority’s capital budget to help meet the costs of the £2m project which will see new changing rooms and toilets as well as a new poolside refreshment kiosk.

Councillor James Steel (Liberal Democrat, Westborough) said: “The drainage situation is getting critical at points, and if we don’t do anything now there could be a major incident that takes place with the drainage.

“A project like this now can help mitigate any of those risks.”

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *