Northampton swimming pool handover could spell end for private coaches' livelihoods

Helen Garrett has been teaching swimming at the pool for 23 years.
Helen Garrett has been teaching swimming at the pool for 23 years.

The future of a Northampton pool where generations of children have been taught to swim is uncertain in the face of a county council handover.

The pool on the grounds of Barry Road Primary School, off Wellingborough Road, has been open for lessons and private hire for decades.

Barry Road Primary School is set to become an academy in September.

Barry Road Primary School is set to become an academy in September.

But ahead of becoming an academy in September, the school's leaders say the pool's running costs pose a "potential financial risk" to their budget and have opted to hand it back to the county council.

However, four swimming coaches who depend on hiring the pool are worried the cash-strapped local authority will sell it to a leisure trust and kill their business.

The county council says they are exploring options to keep this.

Helen Garrett hires the pool for nine hours a week as space for her business HMG Swim. She has been teaching children and adults how to swim for 23 years.

Barry Road swimming pool has taught generations of children to swim.

Barry Road swimming pool has taught generations of children to swim.

She said: "I know families where I've taught five generations of relatives to swim. I teach parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren.

"This could my life completely. Tomorrow I've got to tell my customers that I can't give them any slots at the moment."

Helen joins three other Northampton businesses - Water Wizards, Aqualite and Northampton Swimming Club - who could lose their livelihoods in the deal.

Helen has now started an online petition to "save" Barry Road Swimming Pool that has reached over 1,100 signatures in two days.

One letter of support from a customer to the council reads: "It will be a tragedy if such a unique, useful community resource becomes underused in such a wasteful manner."

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “Barry Primary School has made the decision [...] that uncertain costs of maintaining a pool present too much financial risk to the budget of a single school.

“The pool is used for swimming by other schools in the area and as such the county council has been liaising with Northamptonshire Sport and other partners to establish whether there is scope for continuing the operation of the swimming pool in isolation from the school.”