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Tasmanian council to reduce seasonal pool operating hours through summer

Tasmanian council to reduce seasonal pool operating hours through summer
September 27, 2016

Facing reduced usage and a 50% reduction in its swimming pool budget, a Tasmanian council is to reduce the opening hours of its swimming pools through the summer months.

Citing that the seasonal pools were "not being used enough" to be viable, the West Coast Council’s swimming pool at Zeehan will only open during December while the Rosebery pool will only open in February.

The Council’s largest pool, at Queenstown, will open throughout the summer, from 1st December this year to 28th February 2017 while all the pools will be closed on public holidays.

Explaining the move, West Coast Mayor Phil Vickers stated “traditionally our three pools have cost in the vicinity of $400,000 to operate per season. 

“This equates to approximately $42 per swim based on attendance figures (which) meant that every ratepayer was contributing $88 of their rates towards the pool operations.

“That cost is unsustainable and unfair on the ratepayer and when adopting the current budget the allocation provided to swimming pool operation was reduced to $200,000.”

Council staff were given the task of developing a pool operation option that would meet the reduced budget and after analysis of attendance data, commissioning of pool audits and budget forecasting the following usage data was identified:

• An average of 5,802 people used the Queenstown pool each season (excluding public holidays), equating to an average of 37 people per day
• An average of 2,331 people used the Rosebery pool each season (excluding public holidays), equating to an average of 15 people per day
• An average of 1,698 people used the Zeehan pool each season (excluding public holidays), equating to an average of 11 people per day

As a result, the following operational dates were agreed for the 2016/17 season:

• Queenstown Swimming Pool open 1st December 2016 to 28th February 2017 (closed every Thursday in December and February);
• Zeehan Swimming Pool open 1st December 2016 to 31st December 2016
• Rosebery Swimming Pool open 1st February 2017 to 28th February 2017

Despite admission being reduced to a gold coin, the reduction in operating hours has been met with fierce backlash on social media.

Mayor Vickers said the facilities were simply not being used "to the level that they need to be to be sustainable".

Mayor Vickers said the facilities were simply not being used "to the level that they need to be to be sustainable", adding “attendance figures indicate that Queenstown is by far the most utilised pool however opening the Rosebery and Zeehan pools for a month each allows West Coast schools to deliver their swimming programs with minimal disruption.” 

In spite of the reduced opening hours, the Council is ensuring West Coast schools are able to meet requirements for swimming and water safety programs, with staff liaising with the Tasmanian Department of Education and all West Coast school principals throughout the process. Significantly the West Coast is one of few municipalities not charging schools for pool hire during swimming programs and agreements are being negotiated regarding future hire charges.

Image: Queenstown Swimming Pool.

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