Get-out clause prompts pool closure fears

UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT: St Annes Swimming Pool could be shut at a month's notice
UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT: St Annes Swimming Pool could be shut at a month's notice
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ST ANNES Swimming Pool could close at just a month’s notice if it loses too much cash, it’s been revealed.

Fylde Coast YMCA has a “get-out clause” in its agreement with Fylde Council, which means it can walk away from the vital facility at just four weeks’ notice if the losses are too great.

An independent audit into the handling of the pool re-opening this week revealed that the charity has yet to sign a formal contract with the council, despite the pool reopening last year.

The council insists the absence of a contract isn’t an issue, but admitted the YMCA does have the option of walking away.

A council spokesman told The Gazette: “There’s a legal document which has full legal force in place – a memorandum of occupation and use – which lays out the terms and conditions of the agreement with the YMCA.

“What the agreement includes is it recognises there may be circumstances in which the YMCA could find the pool was losing money.

“If the YMCA incurs losses greater than £100,000, they can end the agreement prematurely.”

According to the audit, when the YMCA was awarded the contract for the pool – controversially closed by the council in 2008 – it was supposed to agree to operate the facility for 12 years.

But the council said the clause has been inserted to ensure the viability of the YMCA, and said they are carefully monitoring the pool’s finances.

The spokesman added: “It is also agreed that they give us financial monitoring statements every three months, so if there were losses and they were to amount to that we would have many months foresight of them.

“What we would not want to do would be to force the YMCA into bankruptcy themselves because of losses at one of their operations.

“But the agreement is working very well for people in Fylde and the pool is popular.”

Local businessman Richard Ellis is the man who called for auditors KPMG to investigate why the YMCA got the pool, after his company lost out.

He said: “The whole idea of the tender was it was signed and sealed for 12 years and I was committed to the pool for 12 years.”

A similar agreement is believed to be in place in Kirkham.