Swimming pool gifted to town to get huge cash lifeline from Milton Keynes Council

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A swimming pool that has lost £500,000 during lockdown is to be kept afloat by MK Council.

Middleton Pool in Newport Pagnell was built with money donated to the town in 1957 by Harry Middleton, who had to learn to swim as a boy in the town's River Lovat.

He was allegedly caught gambling in Bury Field and sent to Australia as punishment. After making his fortune there, he returned to present his old town with a gift of cash.

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The pool was built and named in his honour, and today it is owned by Newport Pagnell Town Council and operated by Places for People Leisure.

Lib Dem ward councillors outside Middleton Pool in Newport PagnellLib Dem ward councillors outside Middleton Pool in Newport Pagnell
Lib Dem ward councillors outside Middleton Pool in Newport Pagnell

Normally the pool offers swimming lessons and fitness activities for thousands of children and adults each week, but lockdown has forced it to be closed for much of the past year.

The town's Lib Dem ward councillors asked MK Council for help, and this is now set to be agreed the Labour-led council at next week's budget meeting.

Recent papers from a Newport Pagnell Town Council meeting show the pool has lost over £500,000 during the past year and that those losses are unsustainable, putting the future of the pool at risk.

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The papers state it is still unknown how much money will come for Middleton Pool from Sport England via the National Leisure Recovery Fund Grant. But councillor anticipate the amount would total only around one-fifth of the losses made between July 2020 and March 2021, and it would not cover any of the losses made in the financial year 2021/22.

This week council leader Pete Marland has written to the chairperson of Newport Pagnell Town Council to confirm the council will offer financial support.

He said: “Securing the future of this valuable community asset is exactly why we have proposed this funding in the budget. I was happy to respond to Cllr Carr’s request and say to the Town Council that MK Council will help fund the financial viability of the swimming pool during this tough time so its in a position to reopen when it can.”

Liberal Democrat ward councillor Jane Carr said: “Its really vital that we keep Middleton Pool open. It’s really successful usually but has been hit hard by lockdown. I asked Cllr Marland to ensure that the pool is helped with the funding proposed in the budget and I’m pleased he’s been able to confirm this to the Town Council. Its an asset for the whole city, not just the people of my ward.

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Milton Keynes Council is run by a Labour Cabinet but operates in a partnership agreement with support from Liberal Democrats over issues such as the budget.

Middleton Pool may not be the only asset needing a lifeline. For this reason, the council's budget proposals will include a fund to ensure all leisure assets in Milton Keynes are in a position to re-open after having to close for months on end due to successive lockdowns

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