A LEISURE operator is adamant a shortage in lifeguards will not threaten plans for a new swimming pool in Pitsea.

On Wednesday, Basildon Council will meet to decide the fate of long-awaited plans to build a new swimming pool at Eversley Leisure Centre – run by Everyone Active.

However, the leisure operator last week was forced to suspend Saturday morning swimming sessions at Basildon Sporting Village due to a national shortage of lifeguards.

The firm, which blames the pandemic for the shortage, has insisted any new swimming pool would be boosted by an ongoing recruitment drive.

Shaun Beagle, area contract manager at Everyone Active, said: “Unfortunately, since the pandemic hit, the leisure industry as a whole is currently facing a nationwide shortage of lifeguards.

“Should plans for the new pool at Eversley Leisure Centre be approved, we have a robust strategy in place to recruit for additional team members. We run NPLQ lifeguard courses to improve our resource and have trained over one hundred candidates here in Basildon since reopening last April. 15-20 of these have since gone on to join the team as casual lifeguards.

“With this recruitment drive in mind, we are hopeful that we will be back to our usual timetables and staffing levels as soon as possible.”

Eversley Leisure Centre, constructed in 1970, was refurbished in 2017 but political wranglings and Covid-19 have delayed construction of the new swimming pool.

Council officers have recommended plans for the new four-lane 25-metre pool, with capacity for 71 swimmers, be approved.

The proposals also include new changing facilities and a further 50 car parking spaces on top of the current 112.

Basildon & Phoenix Swimming Club chairman Tom Baster believes the new pool is much needed and would greatly increase accessibility to the sport if approved.

“One of the challenges swimming faces is that it requires very specific facilities, compared to running or cycling for example,” he said.

“This new pool would be in a part of Basildon which, in terms of economic deprivation, is struggling compared to other parts of the borough. It would provide a great opportunity for children there to learn how to swim.”