Deal to open school pool to public ‘killing’ swimming clubs

Cllr Wes Streeting, cabinet member for health and wellbeing

Cllr Wes Streeting, cabinet member for health and wellbeing - Credit: Archant

The owners of two swimming schools have warned they could go out of business following Redbridge Council’s decision to open the pool they use to the public.

On Tuesday, Redbridge Council announced it had struck a deal with Ilford County High School in Fremantle Road, Barkingside, to use the pool for public swimming lessons at evenings and weekends.

But now the owners of private clubs Watertots and Aqua Kidz, which have both been based at the pool for the past decade, have been told their termly three-month contracts would not be renewed after the end of March.

Tricia Brown, who runs Watertots with her son Simon Stocker, said the first she knew of the situation was on Wednesday when she received a letter from the school.

Mrs Brown said: “I’m devastated. I’ve been here 10 years, I’ve built it up from nothing.”

The 65-year-old, who lives in Loughton, said the club had 230 children on its books, and employed four teachers and 14 teenage helpers.

And Ben Goldhagen, who runs Aqua Kidz with partner Charlotte Skull, said: “While we are huge supporters of swimming in the local community and advocate the ambition of the scheme to increase availability to lessons, the new set up has in essence killed our business.

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“Instead of reducing waiting lists for lessons, the new set up will compound the issue and will leave our children with no guarantee of swimming lessons come the summer term.

“We have run this business for nearly ten years and have paid the school each term for the lease of the facilities.”

Both Mrs Brown and Mr Goldhagen said they were planning to launch petitions against the proposals.

Cllr Wes Streeting, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We are looking very closely at the sutaition with the existing clubs at the school. Where we can, we will try and accommodate them within the timetable.

“I do have sympathy with the clubs but there will be some that lose out.”

He said five of the clubs had been retained at Ilford County High School, two had been made offers to stay but three remained displaced.