FOUR Somerset swimming pools will soon become cheaper to run thanks to central government funding.

The swimming pool support fund was set up by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to provide funding for energy efficiency improvements such as solar panels and air source heat pumps, helping to secure the long-term future of facilities across the UK.

A total of £316,700 has been awarded to projects in Somerset in the second round of this fund, with the money being distributed through Sport England and the National Lottery.

Somerset Council has now confirmed which facilities will be benefiting from this round of funding – two of which has already received government support in the last 12 months.

Under this latest grant, Frome Leisure Centre and Wells Leisure Centre (both run by Fusion Lifestyle) will get new swimming pool covers and solar panels installed on their roofs.

Chard Leisure Centre and Goldenstones Leisure Centre in Yeovil, both run by Freedom Leisure, will have de-stratification fans installed.

De-stratification fans circulate warm air which has built up near the ceiling back down to ground level, reducing the need for additional heating of the pool halls.

The council was previously been awarded £211,208 in the first round of funding in November 2023, which supported five Somerset swimming pools with the increase in pool chemical and utilities costs.

This funding was divided between Brean Splash, Burnham-on-Sea Swim and Sports Academy, Frome Leisure Centre, Shepton Mallet Lido and Wells Leisure Centre.

Councillor Federica Smith-Roberts, portfolio holder for communities, housing and culture, said: “We welcome this exciting grant funding from Sport England and the National Lottery and look forward to working with Freedom Leisure and Fusion Lifestyle to invest in these crucial energy efficiency measures.”

Goldenstones was one of three Somerset leisure centres to receive separate funding to decarbonise its buildings through the public sector decarbonisation fund, which is part of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero – the others being Westlands Leisure Centre in Yeovil and Wincanton Sports Centre.

Work is currently ongoing on a separate decarbonisation scheme at Wellington Sports Centre after grant funding was announced in February 2023.

Councillor Dixie Darch, portfolio holder for the environment and climate change, said: “We’re committed to doing what we can to make Somerset a greener, more sustainable place.

“To have these energy saving measures installed at no cost to the council is fantastic news, and possible thanks to the hard work of staff bidding for grants like this.”

This latest funding is designed to secure the long-term future of swimming pools across the UK, many of which were left in a precarious financial state following their prolonged closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sport England executive director for place Lisa Dodd-Mayne added: “Swimming pools and leisure centres are vital community resources and are enormously important in helping people to be physically active.

“Many pools have faced a real and significant threat to their survival this year, as local authorities and operators have battled the challenge of increased energy and wider costs, weakened reserves and difficulties with retaining staff.”