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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Skates calls for swimming pools to get help with power bills

* The pool at Plas Madoc.

An MS has renewed his calls for increased support for swimming pools. 

Ken Skates wants pools like Plas Madoc to be designated by the UK Government as ‘energy-intensive’ enterprises – meaning they would get more help to subsidise their electricity bills. 

He first raised the issue in October and has now written to the UK Government after the plight of pools was discussed in the Senedd this week. 

Mr Skates, MS for Clwyd South, said: “Swim Wales recently warned that nearly a third of the 500 public swimming pools in Wales could close because of the ever-increasing costs they’re facing. Not only are their energy bills spiralling, but they also face the twin challenges of the rising cost of essential chemicals – and the delays in their delivery – as a consequence of Brexit. 

“Many swimming pools in Wales are owned and maintained by local councils, who have received a very good settlement from the Welsh Government for the next financial year. But some, like Plas Madoc in my constituency, don’t get council funding and have to make ends meet in other ways. 

“Being classified as energy-intensive would give these vital community facilities a real shot in the arm. I have written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Grant Shapps, to make this case and I know the Welsh Government continues to press him on this as well.” 

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething previously said the Welsh Government would work with the UK Government – which is responsible for regulating the energy industry – to find a resolution. 

This week in the Senedd, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Bowden said: “Local authorities have had the best financial settlement in a long time, much higher than they had anticipated, and how they utilise that budget is a matter for them. I hope that the decisions that they come to, following their deliberations and their consultations, will be that they take things like leisure centres and realise that they are part of the wider well-being agenda for their population. 

“But one of the things that I remain concerned about is the UK Government's relief scheme that has still excluded swimming pools from their proposals, and we do continue to press the UK Government to utilise their powers to support swimming pools.”

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