It is with a great sadness that we have decided that Topsham Swimming Pool will not open for the 2020 Season.
We have spent the last couple of weeks looking at the options for a possible pool opening when the Government allowed, and we had to take many factors into account including the need to adhere to guidance from the Government; the Health & Safety Executive; Swim England; the Royal Life Saving Society UK and the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group. Each of these would have required major operational changes and additional expenditure.
Our main priority is always the safety of our volunteers and those who visit the pool and our second priority is providing an enjoyable experience for all. We feel that both of these elements would have been compromised too much.
As we know that the pool is a valued facility in Topsham and surrounding area and many will share our disappointment, we wanted to outline our main reasons -
A reduced number of volunteers available due to some of our volunteers being shielding and in vulnerable groups and we would not want to place any pressure on them to be at the pool.
Social distancing requirements would have mean introducing strict rules on conduct in and around the pool. Enforcing this would potentially affect the enjoyment of both volunteers and visitors, particularly in trying to keep excited youngsters socially distanced.
Swim England guidelines would greatly reduce the capacity of the pool.
We would not be able to offer any private hires and there would be no inflatables / float sessions.
The need for extra cleaning would be an additional burden for our volunteers and lifeguards. For example, we would only be able to offer one toilet which would need to be cleaned after each use and all areas would need to be thoroughly cleaned between sessions. We would not be able to open our changing rooms.
Our pool is funded mainly by entrance fees, party bookings and vending machine purchases. With a greatly reduced no of people in a session, entrance fees would be severely reduced and we would be unable to open the vending machine.
Opening the pool incurs costs such as heating the water to 28 degrees and there were sundry additional costs associated with implementing the various guidelines listed above. As it stands, we have enough reserve funds to stay afloat and open in 2021, but there would be a risk of making a great loss in opening for 2020.
Ultimately, the overriding consideration is safety. Although following PWTAG guidance on altered chlorine and PH levels would mean the virus could not survive in the water, there would still be a risk of anyone infected (and children in particular often show no symptoms) passing the virus above the waterline or around the pool. We would not want to expose any of our volunteers or visitors to this risk.
We would like to thank all who volunteer to support the pool, especially those who work during the closed season still carrying out the regular tasks needed throughout the year, open or closed.
Our focus now is on opening safely and successfully in 2021, when we look forward to welcoming you back.