Swimming coaches say months of uncertainty over town pool handover has left them feeling 'pushed to the side'

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

Business owners who have taught generations of Northampton children to swim say they have been "pushed to the side" by the county council after they were barred for hiring out a town swimming pool for the whole of summer.

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 has handed responsibility of its pool back to the county council.

Barry Road Primary School has handed responsibility of its pool back to the county council.

But in the process of becoming an academy, the school's leaders washed their hands of its running costs and handed responsibility for the pool back to the county council.

The local authority has spent months securing a new contractor to run the pool and say they are close to announcing a result.

But independent swimming coaches who hire Barry Road for lessons say they have been left adrift for the whole of summer after the council turned them away from using the pool to keep their businesses afloat.

But despite this, the county council has allowed schools to use Barry Road for swimming lessons for the interim months.

One coach, Helen Garrett -who has been teaching Northampton children to swim for 20 years - says either everyone should be able to use the pool or no one should.

She said: "How can the county council turn down the rent money for that pool given their financial situation?

"I used to pay nearly £250 a week in rent, but I've effectively been told my money is no good.

"We've been pushed to the side. It makes me sick. This is my livelihood. How can I advertise my business for any time before Christmas when I don't know what's happening?"

Helen - who says her swimming business is her main course of income - has not been able to hold a swimming lesson at the Barry Road pool since July 21, and has had to turn away dozens of customers in the meantime.

The county council says they are close to securing a contractor and have only allowed 'curriculum lessons' at the pool while they put the contract out to tenure.

A spokesperson for Northamptonshire County Council said: “We understand the importance of the facilities at Barry Primary School to the local community and are in the final stages of discussions with a contractor to take over management of the swimming pool, which will help bring the facility back into full operation.”

“An announcement will be made as soon as the details are confirmed.”