Covid 19 Update - June 2020

by Fabia Garau

Covid 19 Update - June 2020

Dear Friends of the Lido, 


It has now been almost 9 months since we last saw you. That is apart from the hardy souls who joined in the Christmas Day swim. We are missing you, particularly during the hottest spring on record. What a period of nine months this has been. We ended the season with the oversubscribed dog swim (yes, the water has been changed and the pool painted since!) and in the knowledge that the council had agreed to renew the lease for a further 35 years. 


At the end of the season the engineers on the board raised concerns about the 35 year old boilers and the risk of them failing during the next season. Independent engineers were called in who confirmed our concerns. As a result, the decision was made to replace them. The cost was an eye-watering £160,000 but we did not think we could risk a failure mid-season. We knew that this expenditure would deplete our reserves but, after all, that was partly what they were for and in the longer term, the energy efficiency savings should repay the investment. 

There were also two other major items to be addressed:

Some of you had complained about the cafe and in particular waiting times. We brought in a new interim CEO with a catering background. Alterations have been made to the layout of the cafe and additional equipment bought to improve throughput. Also, the old First Aid room has been turned into a new little takeaway called the Lido Shack. We are disappointed that you have not yet had the opportunity to experience them. 

Those of you with younger children will also be aware of the problems that we have had with the small pool over many years. Firstly, with the paint and secondly with the lining that was supposed to overcome the problem. After many experts trying to fix these issues, without success, we have re-rendered and tiled the pool. It looks fabulous and we hope you will be able to experience it soon.Whilst we had always prepared for poor seasons and the need for major repairs nothing had prepared us for the current crisis where we have lost the income from both the pool and the more dependable car park income. 


As a result, we have had to put the very costly proposals to improve the changing rooms on hold for the time being. All but a skeleton staff have agreed to be furloughed and we are very grateful to them for agreeing to that. We have made the car park available, free to NHS staff and the Council have assisted us with a £25,000 grant. We are pleased to say that so far, we are keeping our heads above water and we know that this due, in many ways, to the support of our Season Ticket Holders. 

Although open water swimming is now permitted, outdoor pools are still not allowed to open. At present there are no proposals to allow gyms and indoor pools to open before 4th July at the earliest. We are hoping that outdoor pools will come within the next wave of openings. Swim England are intending to issue guidance on the opening of public pools on 15th June. The Government have pushed back the next big announcement until June 26th and we are hoping that we may receive more positive news then. 

The trustees will inevitably have to make some difficult and contentious decisions before we open, not least when the car park ceases to be made available for NHS staff. We are also busy looking at a myriad of issues, from opening hours, the number of people allowed on site, to how long we allow sessions… and the list goes on! We are reflecting long and hard on these decisions we need to make, bearing in mind the delicate balance we need to strike between the critical support given by our Season Ticket Holders throughout this period, the general public, and our primary concern, which must be of the long term viability of the Lido. 


Many of you have asked how you can help. We are so grateful for your support but also appreciate that some of you are struggling too and to this end understand if you are not in a position to reach out to us at this time.If, however you are still in a position to help through a donation, we are able to benefit further through the Government’s Gift Aid Scheme which can increase your donation by a further 25% at no cost to you (if you are a UK taxpayer). This is the link to our Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/spl

The Lido has also benefitted enormously by a team of volunteers who give their time carrying out vital tasks around the site, keeping it ship shape and ready for others to use. If you would like to join our team of volunteers, then we would be only too pleased to hear from you. Please get in touch by emailing our CEO on angus@sandfordparkslido.org.uk

Wishing you all well. 


The Trustees and Staff of Sandford Parks Lido