Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have both been awarded funding to help ease financial pressures and reduce the carbon footprint of the districts’ swimming pools.

The successful bids for Sport England Phase Two Swimming Pool Grants funding will enable both Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre and Hadleigh Pool & Leisure to install important equipment over the coming months.

In total, Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre has received £180,000 to fund pool covers and micro-filtration work.

Hadleigh Pool & Leisure received £103,500, with the funding also going towards pool covers as well as the replacement of fluorescent lighting with LED lighting.

Swimming pools are particularly dependent on energy use, maintaining ambient temperature and heating pool water to the right temperature, so soaring energy bills and inflation have put leisure providers under increasing financial pressure. The awarding of this funding ensures that these pools can now reduce their environmental impact, maintain a quality service for users, and have some of their financial burden lifted.

However, with high demand for the funding and over 700 applications across the country, Babergh’s bid to help the council-owned Kingfisher Leisure Centre in Sudbury was unfortunately unsuccessful, as was Mid Suffolk’s bid for Stradbroke Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre.

Cllr Deborah Saw, Babergh District Council cabinet member for people and place, said: “We are always looking for ways to sustain and improve the health and wellbeing of our communities, so we are grateful for this latest round of funding from Sport England.

“By working with our partners and activity providers, we will strive to protect our leisure facilities and ensure they are accessible to all across our district.”

Cllr Tim Weller, Mid Suffolk District Council cabinet member for environment, culture and wellbeing, said: “Our leisure centres provide excellent facilities for people to increase physical activity, improve wellbeing and mental health. But they also produce the largest portion (41%) of the Council’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“This funding provides us with a vital lever to help reduce our environmental impact while improving the facilities at Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre.

“Leisure centres are feeling the pressure of high operating costs, but by applying for grants like these, we are doing our bit to deliver sustainable and high-quality services.”

Anselm Gurney, contract manager at Everyone Active, which operates Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre, said: “It is great news that these investments will reduce the centre’s carbon footprint going forward.

“Everyone Active is proud to work alongside the Council, as part of our Net Zero Strategy, to help achieve our company’s Net Zero ambitions.”

Warren Smyth, Chief Executive at Abbeycroft, which operates Hadleigh Pool & Leisure, said: “Despite some softening in the cost of energy, swimming pools remain under significant financial pressure due to the cost of utilities.

“It is fantastic to see Babergh District Council securing this important funding from Sport England that will see a pool cover and LED lighting improvements to the facility, which will not only reduce energy consumption but assist in the reduction of carbon. We are extremely appreciative of this funding.”

This latest round of funding follows Hadleigh Pool & Leisure’s first successful Sport England funding bid in 2023.

[Original press release issued by Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council]