CORK County Council has lost more than €1 million over the last two years in running three public swimming pools but councillors have urged the local authority to consider building more.
The local authority lost €471,577 in 2016 and €605,806 in 2017 up to the end of October in the running of pools in Fermoy, Dunmanway and Mallow. Some of the costs in relation to Dunmanway involved the upgrade to the existing pool and the hiring of new staff.
The costs of two more loss-making privately run pools in Cobh and Youghal are also supplemented by the County Council.
However, several councillors have said that the pools should not be viewed as profit-making ventures and instead as vital amenities for communities.
Councillor Seams McGrath (FF) said that maybe the costs of running the pools could be looked at to save money but added that it is important to keep the pools open and potentially look at building more in the future.
“We don’t talk about playgrounds as loss-making, but we do talk about swimming pools in that regard. I don’t want this debate to be about that as that they provide very valuable facilities in areas where a lot of facilities don’t exist,” he said.
“It seems we haven’t developed any new swimming pools in a number of years. We have large towns in Cork County, such as Midleton and Carrigaline, where do not have public swimming pools and I think it’s a debate that we should have as they are one of the most critical recreational amenities that we provide,” he added.
East Cork representative Susan McCarthy said she has been trying to bring pool facilities to the local area of Midleton for several years and said local authorities should be providing more of the services and not looking at what profit could be made.
Gillian Coughlan (FF) said swimming pools should be part of the basic infrastructure for every town and would provide dividends in high-level sport in years to come and Rachel McCarthy (SF) added that while it was probably not feasible to provide one in every town, there should at least be one in every municipal district.
There are currently, no public pools in the Bandon-Kinsale, Ballincollig-Carrigaline or Blarney-Macroom districts.
Mary Ryan, of the Municipal District Operations and Rural Development Directorate of Cork County Council, said a number of criteria are taken into account when selecting areas for future investment in the provision of pools including; the need in the area, site suitability, future viability, construction costs, financial plans and grant awards.