Why 29 public swimming pools in France have closed

A private leisure center company has taken the decision to temporarily close 29 public swimming pools across France due to soaring energy costs.

Read more: “Reduce energy consumption to avoid rationing in France”, says Macron

Vert Marine, which operates 90 swimming pools and ice rinks in France, announced the decision on Monday September 5.

“The increases in the cost of energy that we all suffer no longer allow us to manage our facilities in an economically balanced and socially sustainable way and thus to ensure our public service missions”, declared the company.

The closures include swimming pools in Limoges (Haute-Vienne), Granville (Normandy), Versailles (Yvelines) and more.

Thierry Chaix, boss of Vert Marine, told AFP the company had been forced to lay off 600 of its 2,000 employees.

He also said in a separate statement that between July and September the business went from €250 per megawatt hour to €1,000.

“If this increase were to affect the entry price for our customers, it would have to be multiplied by three, from €5 to €15.

Gilles Sergent, boss of another large company of private leisure centers in France, Récréa, says he understands the position of Vert Marine.

“Who would agree to pay €20 to come and swim, instead of €4 or €6? he said West France.

“The price of electricity changes every day, and this situation was completely unpredictable at the beginning of the summer. The average person doesn’t realize this. They benefit from government protection measures. We, the companies, pay the real price.

He said they would not currently close any of their 95 centers and would try to find practical solutions.

“Some facilities may, in winter, close their outdoor pools and lower the water temperature by 0.5 to 1°C,” he said.

“We want to be pragmatic, to offer solutions on a case-by-case basis.”

About 10% of the 4,000 French public swimming pools are managed by private companies.

The swimming federation calls for the immediate reopening of swimming pools

The French swimming federation, the Fédération Française de Natation (FFN), has called for the immediate reopening of swimming pools.

“These closures have direct consequences for all children and adults who will not be able to learn to swim,” the FFN said on Tuesday September 6.

The federation is unhappy that the private company can “escape” its obligations to provide bathing space to the public – a choice that pools owned by public authorities cannot make.

He also called on the government to put in place a cap on energy price increases for leisure centres, similar to the tariff shield which is in place to protect households from soaring costs.

Gilles Segionale, president of the FFN, said he wanted everyone to take responsibility because the number of drownings in France continues to increase every year.

“It is the responsibility of each local authority to provide a place for each citizen to learn to swim – one of the fundamental skills – the absence of which can lead to the worst tragedies,” he said.

Statistics for the summer season from June 1 to August 31, 2021 showed that 1,119 drownings were reported, of which 250 resulted in death.

Museums, buildings, Christmas lights…

Rising energy costs have effects elsewhere.

The town hall of Strasbourg, for example, has decided to close the city’s museums two days a week to reduce electricity consumption.

Mayor Jeanne Barseghian said the idea was to see how they could “adapt local public services within their means”.

The city is also considering making Christmas cuts, with Ms Barseghian saying that in parts of the city where there are Christmas lights they can cut other street lights so they don’t double up.

In the meantime, the Niort ice rink must be closed until October 3 for similar reasons.

In Lille, the only public buildings lit at night are those of the Grand-Place and the forecourt of the Lille Opera, a saving that could amount to 170,000 kilowatts over the year.

Related Articles

Call for “bathing permits” to reduce the number of drownings in France

France continues free summer swimming lessons for children

Marseilles lend swimming pools so that underprivileged young people learn to swim

Comments are closed.