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Tinwald Pool closed for summer

Tinwald Pool closed for summer
The gates of the Tinwald Pool will remained locked this summer as has leaks, a failing plant, and staffing issues making it a drain on rates. PHOTO JONATHAN LEASK/LDR

It leaks 17,000 litres a day, has a failing plant and staffing issues so the Tinwald Pool will not open this summer to avoid being a drain on the ratepayers.

The future of the pool will be decided in the upcoming long-term plan (LTP) process.

Graham Ackroyd, a Tinwald resident all his life and on the Tinwald Reserve Board for 20 years, understands the motives behind the closure of the pool but said it will still come as a shock to the community.

“If you can’t staff something and it needs a lot of maintenance, it’s pretty hard.

“It’s a great asset and it would be a shame to see it close completely.

“It needs to be retained for sure.”

The pool's issues aren’t insurmountable but will need community support to get the funding it needs, he said.

The outdoor pool has been leaking around 17,000 litres a day each season, its plant is failing, and a rebuild of the 50-year-old pool is estimated to cost at least $3m.

The pool has also been a drain on ratepayers.

The pool’s highest patronage in any one season of 3,050 in the 2020/21 season resulted in a financial loss of $66,000.

On top of the leaks, failing plant, and financial constraints, the pool has been hampered by staffing issues with a lifeguard shortage.

All of the factors combined for the Ashburton District Council to decide not to open the pool this summer and to consider its future LTP.

Councillor Tony Todd said the closure is “a sound business decision over the emotional side of it".

“We have a pool that’s losing 17,000 litres a day which probably isn’t a good look.”

Staff issues, low patronage and the “true cost is $22 per head” means a replacement facility needs consideration in the LTP, he said.

“And if a new pool is actually needed.”

Deputy Mayor Liz McMillan suggested changing to a pool key system that doesn’t require lifeguards like at rural community pools.

As Tinwald has the potential to have up to 300 swimmers, and the key system model is more suited to lower usage, people and capability general manager, Sarah Mosely, said.

It also wouldn’t solve the leaking issues or financial constraints, she said.

Reduced opening hours were another option considered for the pool.

As it will still cost the same to run the pool, the option was overlooked.

Hampstead School’s pool is a possible option as a temporary alternative but the issue of staffing “doesn’t stop by going to another pool”, Mosely said.

The pool closure was disappointing but with the EA Networks pools residents are not missing out, Mayor Neil Brown said.

“Maybe slightly disadvantaged if you live in Tinwald, but you still have an option to still keep swimming”.

By Jonathan Leask