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Fears over the future of Yearsley Pool.


6:20am 4th February 2011

Lib Dem Councillors have vowed to fight to protect leisure facilities in York, after it emerged the Labour group were proposing the closure of the city’s largest swimming pool.

Last week local Labour Leader James Alexander proposed closing the pool to save money and highlighted claims that the city was oversupplied with swimming facilities.

Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Leisure Culture and Social Inclusion, Councillor Nigel Ayre said Labour had a history of trying to close Yearsley.

Councillor Nigel Ayre said:

“This is not the first time that Labour have proposed closing Yearsley pool. In 2002 the Labour group proposed closure and the pool was only saved after Liberal Democrats campaigned to keep it open and won the subsequent election in 2003.”

“Yearsley is the only long course pool in the city and so is a unique attraction for the increasing number of fitness swimmers. Closing Yearsley and replacing it with smaller pools would mean the city would be without a pool that meets the needs of those people who swim for fitness.”

Councillor Ayre said  the city’s pools had seen a big investment over recent years and were attracting more swimmers.

Councillor Nigel Ayre contiued:

“In contrast to Labour’s failure to invest anything in the city’s pools during their time in power, the Liberal Democrats have invested £11m over the last 8 years and have secured more than £7m more through innovative partnerships like the one with the University of York that will deliver the new sports village pool.”

“Part of that £11m of investment has seen more than £1m spent on improving Yearsley Pool. These improvements have been welcomed by residents and the refurbished pool is now attracting record numbers of visitors. The number of visitors to Yearsley pool has risen by 40% since 2005.”

Councillor Ayre said the increasing costs of running the pool had been mainly down to increase in energy costs.

Councillor Nigel Ayre contiued:

“Energy prices have been rising for everyone over recent years and these challenges are not unique to Yearsley pool. We now have an agreement with Nestle to fix the price of steam until 2013. This will help to reduce the energy price pressures.

Councillor Ayre said public subsidies for swimming pools were common.

Councillor Nigel Ayre said:

“Labour should remember that all public swimming pools require a subsidy. The subsidy at Yearsley is much less than they proposed to keep the Barbican pool open.”

“The need for a subsidy is part of the reason why the new pool at York Sports Village is such a good deal for local taxpayers. The partnership with the University means that they are taking on responsibility for running the facility, freeing the Council of any ongoing costs.”

Councillor Ayre added:

“It is now becoming clear that no service in the city is safe from Labour, libraries and swimming pools are already under threat and those are only the ones we know about. Labour should be honest with the public about the full scale of their proposed cuts.”

“People will remember the state in which Labour left our pools and libraries when they were in power. It has taken  8 years and our commitment to invest millions of pounds to clear up the mess left by Labour. It is clear that, despite Labour’s empty promises, the Liberal Democrats are the only party willing to protect and improve leisure services in the city.”


Labour has announced a new campaign that seeks to secure the immediate future for Yearsley baths.

As part of Labour’s preparations for proposing an alternative council budget for 2011/12, the Group’s leader, Coun. James Alexander, received a council report highlighting major concerns over the long-term future of the pool.

Coun. James Alexander said:

 “This campaign is Labour’s response to the problems of uncertainty over the pool’s long–term future and of high levels of public subsidy in the pool.  We believe that by investing properly in the pool now, that its future will be secure and that annual subsidy will be reduced.

“What we need to see now is the Lib Dems and Conservatives making commitments to Yearsley that will show to the public that the facility is valued.  Labour has given this unequivocal commitment and others should now do the same”.

“We have no plans to close Yearsley pool; we place to invest in it”.

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