Save Our Lidos! The threat Britain’s lidos are under and what we can do to help
After our recent homage to the UK’s lido scene, we were saddened to read an article that stated, due to the rising cost of living, and staff and chlorine shortages, some of our outdoor pools may face closure.
The cost of living is affecting both individuals and families, as energy prices soar, fuel costs rise and even our weekly shop is creeping up. This is also having a knock-on affect on businesses, and the lido industry is feeling the pinch. Enter rising cost of heating outdoor swimming pools and wage increases to combat the cost of living crisis.
Another contributing factor to the problem are supply chain disruptions, such as the nation-wide shortage of chlorine, caused by, amongst other reasons, a lack of factory and transportation labour.
Factor in that lidos are struggling to recruit due to lay-offs over the pandemic, and it doesn’t look good for our outdoor pools.
According to figures from the UK Active association, energy bills for the pool sector have gone from £500m in 2019 to almost £1.25bn for 2022. How are our lidos going to cope? We spoke to a Arne Ringner of the Bristol Lido (Clifton) and Thames Lido (Reading), and Brent Bennett, the operations and training manager at the award-winning National Lido Of Wales, Lido Ponty, based at Ynysangharad, to see how they are fighting back…
“If one considers the immense value to human health and well-being gained from swimming, I think there is a good argument to be had in providing some subsidy to pool operators,” Ringner told us, “Our operating costs have risen by 40% over the last 6 month and like the farming community, we pool operators need support from the government.”
Bennett explained that The National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty, is a council run facility which is in the heart of Pontypridd. “It has been noted for the positive economic effect it has had on the local area and has been the catalyst for further developments in the town centre and Ynysangharad War Memorial Park where it is situated.”
“The Lido is seen as a jewel in the Crown of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council and since reopening in August 2015 has seen over 500,000 visitors. This has been achieved even though the pool was closed for the 2020/2021 season as it was being renovated after the flood caused by Storm Dennis.”
It also became apparent during our conversation that both the businesses had made the switch from chlorine to salt, bypassing the shortages and supply chain disruptions.
Bennett told us how they’ve taken back control, “As far as the lack of chlorine, we have had a salt generation plant fitted after we were hit by Storm Dennis. We no longer need to buy chlorine now, only salt, which we put into a machine that makes a mild liquid chlorine for us to be able to dose the pool. This has proved to be far more cost effective than buying chlorine and is readily available. The saving we make on this kind of investment offsets the rise in the energy bills.”
And Ringner had a few words of wisdom for other lido and outdoor pool owners:
“I can recommend the installation of a Hydrolyser, made by Gaffey, that will energise ordinary salt to generate hypochlorite. Salt is safe and widely available at a very competitive price, compared to using chlorine delivered to site.”
“Staffing for all lido’s is going to be a continual challenge as in the main they are seasonal operations and there will be a high turnover of staff,” Bennett added, “To offset this there needs to be plenty of National Pool Lifeguard Courses run to generate more qualified staff. We have been working with our Leisure colleagues to achieve this and it seems to be working well at present.”
Do you love your lido? Here’s what you can do to help:
- Go swimming! Even better if you can buy a membership and dip regularly
- If you don’t fancy a swim, lots of lidos have eating facilities too. Drop in for breakfast or lunch overlooking the water
- Offer a donation, if you have a little money spare
- Ask if they need any volunteer staff
- Take part in any fundraising days they organise
- Tell your family, invite your friends along and share the lido love!
Images kindly supplied by Bristol Lido and Ponty Lido.