Watered down energy bill support leaves 100-year-old Hampton Pool high and dry | Local News | News

Watered down energy bill support leaves 100-year-old Hampton Pool high and dry | Local News | News

Local MP Munira Wilson has challenged the government over its failure to include popular community idols like the 100-year-old Hampton Pool in its list of sectors eligible for the most support under its newly announced Energy Bills Discount Scheme.

On 9 January, the government announced that from April 2023 the new Energy Bills Discount Scheme will replace the previous scheme to help businesses, charities and the public sector with energy bills.

With two tiers of support, the first tier of the Energy Bills Discount Scheme offers basic support for all businesses, charities and public bodies and a higher tier for “energy and trade intensive industries”.

Cultural and visitor attractions such as libraries, museums, zoos and botanical gardens are among those to be included, but community swimming pools, sports complexes and leisure centers are due to cut their support despite their significant running costs.

Opened in 1922, Hampton Pool was threatened with closure in the 1980s when it was rescued by a group of local residents. The community pool, which is now run by a nonprofit charity foundation and managed by the YMCA St. Paul’s Group, relies on entrance fees and donations to keep its doors open.

Commenting on the neglect Hampton Pool now faces with the introduction of the new Energy Bills Discount Scheme, Ms Wilson said: “Anyone who has spent a day at Hampton Pool knows its value to the local community and the mental and physical health of the local people.

“Come rain or shine, and the occasional snow, the unique facilities here bring people together in the joy of outdoor swimming. Just last year we celebrated the centenary of Hampton Pool. Now the government has all but turned off the faucet of crucial energy support.

“Ministers urgently need to review and expand the list of sectors classified as energy intensive. It is absolutely right to recognize our cultural institutions, but sports and leisure centers are equally necessary. I urge the government to safeguard the future of Hampton Pool and others I love.”

Ms Wilson spoke to BBC Radio London at Hampton Pool on Friday (27 January).

Hampton Pool is the base for many grassroots sports clubs and organizations throughout the Borough of Richmond including triathlon and swimming clubs such as Thames Turbo and Teddington Masters. The swimming pool also trains and employs young people as lifeguards and teachers, offers swimming lessons for children of all ages and offers a wide range of health and well-being focused training sessions, including for the elderly.

Speaking to Nub News, Hampton Pool Trust Chair Jane Savidge added: “Our mission is to ensure everyone in our community, young and old, can harness the life-changing power of swimming and live longer, happier lives. Pools like ours have already felt the effects of skyrocketing energy costs.

“Being excluded from this latest program makes me fear for the future of community pools like ours and across the country.”

Despite submitting a written parliamentary question to the Department for Enterprise, Energy and Industrial Strategy asking the Foreign Secretary to review sectors included on the list of “energy and trade-intensive industries” to include swimming pools and leisure centres Ms Wilson has since done so, received a reply stating that there are currently no plans for a review of the scheme.

Speaking to BBC Radio London at Hampton Pool on Friday (27 January), the Twickenham MP explained how an early day motion has now been tabled which would allow further debate on the issue in the House of Commons, which she believes would bipartisan support was strongly received.

More information on Ms. Wilson’s work to ensure greater financial support for Hampton Pool can be found here.

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