Leisure chain Better are reducing their opening hours to cut operating costs in Chipping Norton, Carterton and Witney
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Three swimming pools in West Oxfordshire will be open less due to the soaring cost of energy bills. Better, which runs the pools, said its energy bills had increased 132 per cent since 2019.
Leisure centres affected by the changes are Carterton, Chipping Norton and Witney's Windrush Leisure Centre. Pools will open an hour later and close an hour earlier on days when usage is at its lowest.
The pools will also close at certain points in the day when usage has typically been low. The new winter timetable will run from December 12, 2022, to spring 2023.
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Councillor Joy Aitman, cabinet member for stronger healthy communities, said: “Nationally the leisure sector has taken a huge hit as a result of the increase in energy costs and we have also seen a drop in user numbers since the pandemic. Small reductions in the opening times of the swimming pools at times, when very few people use them, will help reduce energy costs.
"We will continue to keep the pools open for all of our swimming clubs and lessons. We are working with Better, and consulting with residents through our budget survey, to identify measures to reduce costs and increase efficiency to help protect our leisure services.
“Our leisure centres provide fantastic leisure opportunities across the district and I would urge residents who don’t currently use them to look at what they can offer whether that be swimming, gyms, playing pitches, hall hire, activities for a range of ages or even a trampoline play park or soft play.”
Matt Simmons, partnership manager at Better, said the reduced timetable was needed to tackle rising energy costs. He added: “The recent rises in utility prices have had a huge impact on Better, both as a not-for-profit organisation and as a leisure operator. While utility price rises are a nationwide cross-sector issue, leisure centres and in particular those with swimming pools, are being disproportionately impacted.
"In West Oxfordshire, our annual operating costs are up 132 per cent on 2019. We have been doing all we can to reduce our energy consumption for example by introducing LED bulbs and movement sensors to lighting, installing variable speed drives to pumps and thermal pool covers, but we need to take further steps in order to remain viable this winter.”
Those wishing to check a swimming pool's opening hours can do so online.
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