Penketh Pool and Community Centre was forced to temporarily close in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This was necessary due to the risks posed to public health throughout this crisis, these real risks remain.
Councillors have been updated on the facility on several occasions including meetings of 11th March, 8th April, 13th May, 10th June, 8th July and a full update was intended on the 9th September but was unable to proceed.
Prior to the retirement of our long-term general manager, advice was sought on behalf of the Council as to options for the future management of Kingfisher Leisure. As is common practice and to meet an emergency need, a temporary manager was sought. This was agreed by the Parish Council and a contractor was instructed and commenced work on 22nd June. This contractor left on 24th July after submitting a report to Cllrs on 7th July and 20th July on the concerning state of the facility. Inspections at Penketh Pool and Community Centre have revealed a number of operational and Health & Safety concerns. Further to the departure of this temporary contractor, a further temporary manager was engaged (under the same process and arrangements agreed prior) to take matters forward.
Work has been ongoing in the assessment and processes to resolve these concerns. The temporary manager will report to Cllrs with a substantial update along with recommendations that the Council take a number of decisions which will allow necessary works for the facility to re-open safely in due course. The temporary manager had prepared to report to Cllrs for the 9th September meeting of the Council but was prevented from doing so (waiting for over one hour to be admitted on the Zoom meeting). He later found himself removed and unable to re-access the virtual meeting.
The Council notes that some other leisure facilities have opened under limited operations and strict guidance and that all facilities are different in terms of their age and characteristics. The closest comparable facility in Warrington (to Penketh) is Broomfields Leisure Centre which is operated by Livewire and remains closed.
Warrington is still in the top five nationally for confirmed cases of Covid 19 with a recent outbreak within a local Penketh school. For this reason, the decision to open the pool should not be taken lightly.
All Cllrs are aware of the additional health and safety matters which need to be addressed and we are committed to re-opening as soon as possible. We understand that there has been some public misinformation regarding the circumstances around Covid-19 and the temporary closure of the facility and hope that this update will assist in understanding the challenges faced.
Penketh Parish Council remains committed to the re-opening of Penketh Pool and Community Centre as soon as possible and will continue to prioritise health and safety and minimise risk despite any social media pressure.