The Sustainable Managementof Public Swimming Pools Mark Sesnan GLL, April 2008
About GLL • A bit of background • Swimming Pool Sustainability • A cant and a rant around the issues • The GLL Sport Foundation • GLL helping disadvantaged young people succeed in their sport
About GLL • The ‘original’ leisure trust established in 1993 • Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) • Society for the Benefit of the Community • Social Enterprise • Co-operative Structure • Not Profit Distributing • Exempt Charity
Extensive Experience • Operate 65 leisure and sports facilities • Operate nearly 50 pool complexes including three 50m pools • London and surrounding boroughs • 14 London Borough Partners • 5 other Public Sector / Charity Partners • £70m Turnover • 4,000 staff
Design Technology Energy Environment Tendering Increasing Operating Costs Health & Safety Programming Staffing Temperatures Chemicals Charges Sustainability Issues
Defining a Sustainable Pool • Financial Model • Environmental Impact • Robust ‘lifetime’ design and build • Attractive and Pleasant • Right Location • Intensity of Use, Balance &‘Ownership’ • Safe
Design • Designed to Use or to Look at? • Designed by Operators or Architects? • Lifetime costs exceed build costs, but get less priority • We have been designing public pools for over 100 years and we still make basic errors
Good Design Experienced design Team including Operator Architect is Team Member not Master Lifetime cost is more important than build cost Poor Practice Operator not involved or has ‘back seat’ Designed from outside in (..what does it look like) Capital build cost is more important than lifetime cost Design (Continued)
Designing for Flexible Use • Easily Moveable Floors, Booms and Bulkheads • Leisure Water v’s Fitness Water • Depth profile • Temperature variability • Changing configuration • Accessibility
Environmentally sustainable • Intelligent design • Heat Reclaim • Solar / Ground Heat • Pool Covers • Variable Speed Pumps • Managed pool and air temperatures • Brown Water reuse
Tendering and Procurement • CCT abolished by Government, but Procurement Officers happy to use EU tendering rules with vigour …. Why? • Tendering always ends up focussing on PRICE (..oh and a bit of quality, allegedly) • Cut the price in a climate of increasing fixed costs and you end up with….
Cut the costs • Low paid staff • Low motivation • Poor service • No cash for repairs and improvement • Fewer customers • Cycle of decline • Ultimately less pools • Less swimmers • More drownings • More sedentary people • More obesity & health related illness
But… • We saved a few quid on the tender (which the Borough Treasurer then gave to another department that was too ‘professional’ to have to save money) • Cynical but true! • Why do we do it?
Financial Model The perceived wisdom: • Pools cost money • Health, Fitness & Dry Sport generates money • Combined they should break even
Of course it is more complex! • Estimated that the true cost of a swim is £4 - £7, although the average paid by adults is £2 - £3 and even less by children • The cost per swim increases if the building is old or new and badly designed • What is the role of any subsidy?
Offsetting the Cost • Maximising the pool programme • Rationalised opening hours • Back to back sessions • Optimising the pricing • Can pay should pay (with ‘Robin Hood’) • Direct debits? • Collocating ‘dry’ facilities • Add Revenue positive cost centres such as Health and fitness Gyms, Spa etc
A Balanced Programme • Coherent Public timetable at regular and popular times: • Commuter, Lunchtime, Evenings, Weekends • Fitness (Lane) Swimming, Fun and Leisure • Women Only, Families Only • Schools, Clubs, Lessons • BeaconClub, Swim 21 etc • Water Fitness (aqua-aerobics)
All Things to All People? • The Fitness Swimmer • Clear lanes, speed segregated, no kids • The Swimming Club • Exclusive Use • Children and Families • Fun, splash, swim • Special Groups • No viewing, No male staff, specialist equipment
What the Customer Wants • Easy to park car, bike or bus • Accessible timetable • Friendly, efficient reception • Fair price • Clean, bright and safe changing areas • Working, good sized lockers • Clean water, low/no chlorine • Intelligent lifeguarding • Space to swim
Do we always live up to this? • Many pools are Dickensian in look, feel and operation • Pool programmes are often dominated by self interested groups • Do the Customers have to ‘wipe their feet on the way out!’
Challenging Ourselves • Drive up standards for pool design • Drive greater understanding of swimming needs and customers • Drive pool usage and utilisation to financially appropriate levels • Drive the ‘case’ for swimming as the flexible physical activity and sport
The Latest Round of ‘Issues’ • Health and Safety culture generally • we must find someone to blame • all accidents must have someone at fault • the ‘crime’ can be just not having an adequate risk assessment! • The need for ever increasing staff levels • The litigious Customers • The Pools ‘safety’ culture is killing off enjoying yourself and diving – what next?
H&S -How did we end up here? • Nobody would drown in our pools if we closed them all! [Of course a lot more people would drown in canals and open water] • Nobody goes to work to cause a tragedy [But you can go to prison if one happens on your watch] (..unless you are an H&S officer of course)
Ensuring the future for Swimming • Recognising the role of swimming in an Active Society • Forging ‘added value’ partnerships between the ASA, Clubs and the wider community • Sharing best practice • Promoting access • ..and Income needs to cover costs!