A BOURNEMOUTH junior school is considering closing its swimming pool because it is costing too much to maintain.

Stourfield Junior School is consulting parents on four different options for the pool, which is used by hundreds of youngsters from both the school and the wider community every week.

School governors say the pool made a small loss of £1,738 in 2010/11 but will require expensive maintenance work in the next few years. This work is estimated to cost around £428,000 and will have to be paid by the school as there is no council funding available.

Parents are being asked whether they would support a suggestion to close the pool and leave the buildings to deteriorate until the council is forced to demolish them.

Alternatively, they could opt to carry out specific fund-raising to pay for future maintenance costs, hand the building over to another manager or set up a charitable body to oversee the running of the pool.

Gaynor Brown, the school’s chair of governors, said: “The governing body is being proactive in investigating possibilities for the future of the swimming pool. Until the public consultation is complete there really isn’t much more we can say.”

Felicity Draper, access manager, community learning and commissioning, said they had limited funding available to address high priority building repairs at schools but could not afford to spend this on swimming pools.

“Not all schools in Bournemouth have a swimming pool, and there are a wide range of alternative pools available in the borough for schools to meet their commitment to teach swimming as part of the curriculum,” she said. “Therefore in recent years, swimming pools at schools have not been supported by funding from the council.

“The school looks after the day to day management and maintenance of the pool, and the decision about the future of the pool rests with them.”

What parents say

Debbie Hall, 47, whose ten-year-old son Finley attends Stourfield, said: “I’m a former pupil and learned how to swim here; I think other children should have the same opportunity.

“I think it is a shame that the pool could close and I would be prepared to support any fundraising efforts to save it.”

Sarah Furze shared her sentiments. She said: “I would like to see the pool remaining open; it’s now compulsory to have swimming lessons and taking a coach to the Littledown Centre would be costly.

“Other schools do that, but I don’t think it is a solution. The school’s pool must stay open.”
Janine Rose, 31 said: “I like the option of handing over the pool to a charitable trust; I don’t think it should close.

“My son has swimming lessons at Stourfield and I think other children should have the same chance. I live nearby and don’t want to have to pay transport costs.”

Melody Moss, 37, a mum-of-two who lives nearby, said: “I learned to swim at Stourfield; my children have been swimming since the age of four and I want them, and future generations, to have the opportunities I did. I would support any  initiatives to keep the school swimming pool open.”