British swimming pool hours cut to reduce energy costs

FILE PHOTO: A resident relaxes in a swimming pool at The Thatchers Holiday Village in Modbury

LONDON (Reuters) - A major British swimming pool operators said it was cutting its opening hours to save money on energy bills as the soaring cost of heating starts to hurt the country's public services.

Over 200 leisure centres and swimming pools across the country will open an hour later and shut an hour earlier on certain days to save on heating and lighting costs said GLL, a charitable social enterprise which runs facilities.

In Britain, inflation has surged to a 41-year-high, driven by rising energy bills, and causing a cost-of-living crisis for both consumers and businesses, who struggle to pass on higher costs to cash-strapped customers.

Higher energy bills are affecting people across Europe and governments have taken action to cut costs.

In France, municipalities have been ordered to reduce water temperatures at public swimming pools by 1 degree Celsius as well as turn off hot water in toilets in public buildings.

The shorter hours in its pools will last from December until Easter (Apr. 9), said GLL on Tuesday.

"This will enable us to turn off lighting, plant and equipment at the time of maximum energy use, when it is coldest and darkest," GLL said in a statement, warning that the rise in costs was becoming unsustainable.

Energy costs are now three times what they were in 2019, it said, adding that it now costs 300,000 pounds a year to heat a public swimming pool complex.

Swim England warned earlier in November that more than 100 pools could close or reduce their services due to the high cost of energy.

(Reporting by Sarah Young, Editing by Paul Sandle)