Swimming pool major update


In April, Rye Town Council inaugurated a working party to consider if a community group could take over the running of Rye Leisure Centre. From this, two part-time project managers were hired to undertake the research needed to explore the options. As any business would, due diligence has to be carried out to understand what the community would be taking on. There are three key aspects to this:

  1. What condition is the building in and is it fit for purpose?
  2. Will East Sussex County Council (ESCC) grant new leases and who will pay for dilapidations?
  3. Where do we get the money from to make it work?

In the last eight weeks we have made the following progress:

  • Held a meeting of Rye Town Council to agree, in principle on sight of a business plan and conditions survey, to set up a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) and take a lease for the centre direct from East Sussex County Council.
  • Set up a CIO and sent off all the paperwork to the Charity Commission.
  • Held talks with ESCC and Rother District Council to consider options for the future.
  • Spoken with numerous other stand-alone community pools and leisure centres to understand their journey, learn from their experience and bring the network of operators together.
  • Spoken with Swim England and their chief fundraising advisor.
  • Spoken with our MP. Spoken with fundraising advisors including officers at ESCC.
  • Undertaken condition surveys and await the results.
  • Engaged with Rye College to understand their needs for the centre.
  • Working with Active Rother.
  • Drawn up comparison data with other neighbouring pools to understand their offerings and pricing structures.
  • Produced statistics on our area to understand the needs of the community in terms of health, education, demographics, and employment.
  • Produced a fully funded business plan, rural marketing plan, membership modelling, and centre timetable to maximise its use.
  • Spoken with existing hirers about their needs.
  • Visited Cranbrook pool to see what can be achieved.

As soon as we know that taking on this asset for the community is possible, we will immediately start to engage with other stakeholders in the area to understand their needs, gauge what classes and events can be put on there, and what usage they will make of the facility. We will also explore, with other providers, making this a social enterprise in terms of health and educational benefits, plus youth outreach work.

We really want to take this on and make it happen, because that is what Rye and the surrounding villages deserve, but, we have to do it with our eyes open. Other stakeholders recognise that they too play a role in this, and we are currently at the stage of agreeing what that looks like in terms of time and finances.

Image Credits: Kt bruce .

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  1. Occasionally involving the private sector in public services makes sense and this is arguably a good example. The cost to the council tax payer for correcting a seemingly damaged building offering arguably a non-critical service to the community cannot be justified. If for example, it costs £2million pounds to correct the leisure centre, would East Sussex county council not be wiser to invest such a huge sum of money in something else? The leisure industry, an ever growing private industry is surely better placed to correct this. Nuffield health, bannatyne, David Lloyd, everyone active etc …would undoubtedly work for the interests of the community as part of their operational parameters

  2. Oh, I do hope this works. Well done and many thanks to those who’ve taken the initiative and their professional approach.

  3. A concerned young woman spoke to me at Rye train station on Sunday. She was concerned as water was pouring out of the tap in the Ladies toilet building What a waste when we are all trying to preserve water, and there was no telephone number that she could call in an emergency. It would be useful to have a telephone number displayed. As it was Sunday I was unable to contact anyone.


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