Wivey pool has missed out on government funding aimed at helping with swimming pool running costs, after it was deemed 'not to be at risk.'
The government's Swimming Pool Support Fund awarded over £200,000 to Somerset Council to distribute to swimming pools across the county to help the facilities cope with the rising costs of utilities and chemicals.
A number of pools, including in Frome, Shepton Mallet, Wells and Burnham-on-Sea all benefitted from the scheme, while Wiveliscombe was left in the lurch, despite putting in an application to the council.
The council did not include Wiveliscombe pool's request in their application for the government funds, saying:
"We would have loved to have been able to include all swimming pool facilities in our application but due to being oversubscribed we had to prioritise the facilities we received applications from based on the funding criteria set by the Swimming Pool Support Fund.
"The information and evidence provided in relation to the pool’s risk of closure or risk of having to reduce provision was not as strong as in other applications we received."
The decision comes in spite of a long-running campaign by the pool to raise money in order to keep afloat. Wivey pool set, and exceeded a £100,000 goal, which they used to install an air source heat pump and solar array. This allowed them to transition away from their historic gas heating, and its spiralling cost.
As part of the campaign, a team of local youngsters completed a relay swim of the English Channel, which contributed thousands towards ensuring the continued viability of Wivey pool.
However, the pool now appears to be a victim of its own success - and seems to have been denied support because of their proactive measures.
While Somerset Council did not comment on which pools applied for the funding, chairperson Liz Hurry confirmed Wivey had put in a bid, and was rejected after the council determined they were not at risk.
The money became available after fresh funding to support swimming pools was announced in the government's Spring Budget. It invited councils across the country to bid for up to £500,000. In all, £20 million was made available nationally, with the goal of preventing swimming pool closures.
Somerset Council received applications for funding from 17 pools across the county, but only passed on applications from ten of them to the government.
The final decision was made by Sport England, a government body which oversees aspects of community sport, who approved funding for five of the ten swimming pools on Somerset Council's application.
Commenting on the payouts, Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts said: "We are delighted to have received funding from Phase 1 of the Swimming Pool Support Fund. These funds will provide welcome support to the operators of these five sites at what is a financially challenging time for swimming pool operators and will support them to continue to provide public swimming, positively contributing to residents’ health and wellbeing as well as providing a place for local school children to learn to swim."
It comes ahead of a planned 'phase 2' funding round, which would see the Swimming Pool Support Fund provide extra funding for capital investments to help make pools more energy efficient.