Below is the text of the address given at the North Northamptonshire Council Meeting on 24th February 2022. This was a meeting where the NNC budgets were being discussed.
The average life of a swimming pool built in England since the 1960’s is 38 years.
Kettering Swimming Pool is 38 years old.
Of course, 38 years is the average. Some pools last longer.
38 years is the only average thing about Kettering Swimming Pool.
Kettering Borough Council’s Sports Facilities Assessment found that the pool and changing rooms at KSP were Below Average.
The average water for swimming in England is 13 sq m per thousand people. It is slightly less in the East Midlands.
In North Northamptonshire there is 10 sq m per thousand population – below average. But – Corby has over 15 sqm. East Northants has over 13 sqm. Wellingborough over 12 sqm.
Kettering – 4.6 sqm per thousand people. Less than a third of the national average and less than a third of neighbouring towns.
Swimming is one of the most popular activities around the country, especially among women and girls, who report that swimming doubles their self-confidence. It is one of the most popular sports enjoyed by Kettering residents. Unlike many activities it can be enjoyed at any age, and the water can be an ideal environment to support people to be active. Weekly swimming saves the NHS and social care system more than £357 million per year. The pool also helps people with their mental health, with 1.4 million adults reporting that swimming has significantly reduced their anxiety or depression.
It is a well recognised fact that the requirement to travel is an obstacle to exercise. Expecting Kettering residents to travel around the County is an unsustainable strategy which will generate 43 tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2031. So much for Net Zero.
Above all swimming is a life skill. What parent does not want their child to learn to swim? How many of you here have been on holiday and watched your children playing in the pool or the sea? How many of you have worried about their safety in the water?
There has been a problem with the roof at Kettering Swimming Pool for many years. In 2017 part of the wooden ceiling fell into the pool during swimming lessons. Repairs included adding a false ceiling so it is no longer possible to see any damage or loose panels but it looks nice.
Water still comes through the roof. It drips onto poolside and onto the woefully inadequate spectator area. It drips into those new changing rooms and damages the ceiling tiles added throughout the building at great expense. It has caused electrical problems affecting lighting and the air handling unit.
The Budget appears to make no allowance for the recommendations of the KBC Sports Facilities Strategy – the addition of a teaching and learning pool and a feasibility study on the future of KSP.
There appears to be no accommodation for investigation and repair of the roof.
Every time someone from Kettering travels to a neighbouring town to use their significantly better swimming facilities they, in all likelihood, spend money in local businesses – shops and restaurants – which is good for the local economy. Not for Kettering.
Kettering’s MP, Mr Phillip Hollobone declared, in 2017, that Kettering was Britain’s most average town. Is this the ambition for North Northamptonshire Council? To be Average?