Anger at plan to cut morning hours for swimming pool

Kirkcaldy Leisure Centre.
Kirkcaldy Leisure Centre.

Leisure chiefs have come under fire for plans to cut the opening hours of the training pool at Kirkcaldy Leisure Centre.

It currently opens at 8am and is used by those with disabilities or mobility issues, with a large number of people using it in the early morning.

But cost-cutting measures have seen Fife Sports and Leisure Trust reveal a plan to keep the smaller pool closed until 10am as of July 27.

Rab Annan is among those who use the training pool early on. He suffers mobility problems from a car crash 25 years ago.

He said: “There are people who aren’t confident swimmers who use the training pool in the morning and don’t like going out of their depth.

“There are people with breathing problems, or chronic illnesses, a couple of guys in their 80s and enjoy a gentle swim and keep healthy.

“A lot of people are talking about stopping, or cancelling their monthly ticket.

“They’re penalising elderly and infirm people, or people who aren’t confident in the water. They’re being penalised for either their ages, their ability to swim, or their health conditions.

“A lot of people go there for the social side as well. There’s one guy, who lives on his own and the guys in the pool are about the only people he ever sees.

“There are widows or widowers, they go there because they know people, they’re comfortable with them, and it gives them a bit of social side – it’s not just the health side of things, it’s the mental wellbeing as well.”

David Ramsey (85) said a number of older users don’t want to use the larger pool.

“There’s a lot of folk go at that time of the day,” he said. “For older ones it’s just better.

“It’s warmer in the wee pool. The big pool goes down to about two and a half metres.

“When you get out of your depth at this age you start to get a wee bit worried.

“You don’t swim as fast as some of the youngsters who zoom past. Someone bumps into you and you get a gulp of water, you can’t put your foot down.

“Some of the swimmers are recovering from operations or cancer.

“They’re talking about stopping if they have to go to the big pool.”

Wendy Watson, chief operating officer for Fife Sports and Leisure Trust, said the move followed budget cuts by Fife Council.

She added: “The training pool will open at 10am rather than 8am on weekdays to reduce the cost base.

“There is no change to the training pool weekend timetable and the main pool timetable remains unchanged and will open at 6.30am as usual. This decision has been taken on the basis that it will have the least impact on the wide range of users who enjoy the centre.

“With regards to concerns around swimmer ability and the suitability of the main pool, as demand requires, we will allocate a section of the shallow end of the pool between 8am and 10am which will mean that swimmers do not have to swim full lengths.

“Also, Kirkcaldy Leisure Centre has been designed to be fully accessible for disabled users and our main pool has a walk-in stairs for less able customers, and, both pools have hoists for disabled users.”