Council cuts to blame for losses, say Jedburgh pool bosses

The Laidlaw Memorial Pool in Jedburgh.
The Laidlaw Memorial Pool in Jedburgh.

The trust that runs Jedburgh’s Laidlaw Memorial Pool and fitness centre is at odds with Scottish Borders Council over the amount of funding it gets from the local authority.

The dispute is revealed in the annual accounts, to March 31, of Jedburgh Facilities and Leisure Trust, the organisation that took over control of the Oxnam Road centre from the council in 2003.

In his report to trustees, director George Burt reveals a trading loss of £5,888 over the preceding 12 months, despite turnover increasing by £8,539.

“This is the result of two factors – a reduction of £3,183 in the management fee we receive from Scottish Borders Council and increases in energy and water costs of some £10,000,” states Mr Burt.

He notes that when the trust took over the pool 13 years ago, it was paid a management fee by the council of £135,000, but that annual payment now stood at £118,000.

“While this is the last year of the planned cuts to the management fee, there is no guarantee that the present level will continue,” warns Mr Burt.

Mr Burt reports that, to improve the trust’s financial position, a 5% increase in admission prices, the first for three years, was introduced in April 1 and is expected to boost overall income by £9,000.

“Among other measures to increase revenue, a greater sign up to gift aid by our membership and developing a system for pay-at-door income would return an additional £6,000 from HM Revenue and Customs.

“The grant-funded replacement of our fluorescent lights with LED lights could save us a further £5,000 in electricity costs and maintenance.”

Signing off the accounts, Mr Burt adds: “Our plans for refurbished changing facilities have been delayed because of concerns over the stability of a wall. That has now been resolved, and we are in a position to apply for grants to fund this work.

“We already have £66,000 in capital grants available from the council.

“The Laidlaw Memorial Pool and fitness centre continues to offer good-quality services at reasonable prices and has the longest public opening hours of any in the Borders. Overall, our underlying operating finances are sound.”

Last financial year, the trust had total income of £291,971, compared to £303,638 the previous year. Over that period, total spending was £297,859, down from £312, 892.

Gifted to the town by ex-provost James Laidlaw in 1923, the original baths were replaced by the current 25m pool in 1974, and it was then renamed the Waterside Fitness Centre.

After the centre was earmarked for closure by the council in 2003, a local committee emerged to fight to keep it open and, subsequently, the trust was formed to run the pool, restore its original name and support other leisure projects in the town.