Friends of Guildford Lido to hold swimsuit protests over plan to keep pool closed over summer

The Friends of Guildford Lido group is planning two swimsuit protests over plans to keep the pool closed over the summer.

The popular family attraction in Guildford remains closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic despite other pools around the country now open.

Guildford Borough Council and Freedom Leisure say reopening the pool would not be cost effective for the remainder of the summer season.

Upset by this decision, community group Friends of Guildford Lido is urging members of the public to join them in socially-distanced swimsuit protests on Saturday (August 1) and Sunday (August 2).

Anyone wishing to support the protest should meet by the Guildhall clock in Guildford High Street at 2.30pm on both days. Wearing a swimming costume is optional and those who want to take part need only turn up.

Friends of Guildford Lido say: “The summer is ticking away with our Lido still unopened, while a third of UK Lidos have managed to open and are very busy.

“Those we have enquired about seem to be fully booked, even a week in advance.

“The aim is to draw attention to our campaign to persuade Guildford Borough Council to reconsider their decision, open the Lido as soon as possible, and keep it open until at least the end of September.

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“Lifeguards are especially welcome to join us too, whether in uniform or not. We want to show that we are taking safety seriously.

“It’s the more the merrier, and some of you have said you would go to both. If we can’t be at the Lido, at least we can see some familiar faces.”

Protesters are asking to wear a face mask and keep two metres apart.

Explaining the move to keep the Lido closed, Councillor James Steel, environment leader at Guildford Borough Council, said: “We are sorry to confirm that although the government now allows outdoor pools to open, we are unable to open Guildford Lido this summer.

“Please rest assured we haven’t taken this decision lightly. We completely understand how disappointing this news will be and have taken this decision jointly with Freedom Leisure.

“Working with Freedom Leisure, we have reviewed the possible programme within the government restrictions and Swim England’s safety guidelines and we all felt a programme of pre-bookable one hour lane swimming was not going to meet customer’s expectations for their Lido experience or be sufficient to make the set up and operation of the venue cost effective for the remaining six week season.

“However lane swimming will be on offer at Guildford Spectrum in the competition pool during August and September.”

The anticipated additional cost to operate the Lido is estimated to be £38,000 for August and a similar amount for September.

This is on top of the annual operating costs.

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