Britons are bracing themselves for a summer holiday disaster with public swimming pools shutting up early during their busiest period of the year over fears the national supply of chlorine could run dry.
Swimming pools in Essex, Staffordshire, Birmingham and Brighton were closed or operated on reduced timetables on Wednesday as much of the country bathed in the glorious summer sunshine.
Parents were being warned swimming lessons may be cancelled and pensioners were told to forget about aqua aerobics classes as the UK’s pools battle to keep their doors open and businesses afloat amid a chlorine shortage.
With the cost-of-living crisis forcing millions of Brits to tighten the purse strings, several businesses are understood to be considering drastic cost-saving measures such as dropping pool temperatures.
Some leisure centres were even forced into requesting customers avoid deodorants and shower or use the toilet before swimming so as to help keep the water as clean as possible.
Now bosses are begging the government to intervene and provide additional stock after a report published earlier this year claimed nine out of 10 swimming pools face closure as soaring energy prices show no signs of slowing.
It comes as the Met Office confirmed Britain bathed in the hottest day of the year so far after beaches and parks were packed and parts of London sizzled in 28C (82F) on Wednesday.
Forecasters had predicted glorious sunshine and clear skies across much of England and Wales during this week’s heatwave, as temperatures of nearly 30C (86F) are recorded in parts of London and the South East before surging to 34C (93F) on Friday.
Tourists posed for selfies on Westminster Bridge in the capital and enjoyed ice cream in Richmond Park, while families flocked to Bournemouth and Brighton for a day at the beach. Others cooled down by punting on the River Cam behind Cambridge’s historic colleges.
And health bosses had urged people to watch for signs of heat exhaustion among the elderly and vulnerable, while hay fever suffers braced for a ‘pollen bomb’.
The warm flow of weather is coming from Spain and Portugal, where daytime temperatures have exceeded 40C (104F) on parts of the Iberian Peninsula.
People enjoying the hot weather in London’s Hyde Park. Temperatures are set to rise to 31 Degrees on Friday as London and other parts of the country enjoy a heatwave
Forecasters are predicting that July and August will be hotter still, as the British summer truly kicks into gear. The Weather Outlook forecaster Brian Gaze said: ‘It looks like sun cream conditions ahead, with a hotter-than-average July expected, with more hot spells in August.’ People pictured in London’s Hyde Park
Swimming pools in Essex, Staffordshire, Birmingham and Brighton were closed or operated on reduced timetables on Wednesday as much of the country bathed in the glorious summer sunshine. [File image]
The Met Office has confirmed millions of Brits basked in the hottest day of the year so far after beaches and parks were packed out and parts of London sizzled in 28C (82F) on Wednesday (pictured in Hyde Park)
The British Red Cross, meanwhile, has encouraged people to protect themselves and to check in with vulnerable friends, family and neighbours during the soaring temperatures. Pictured in Hyde Park, London
Tourists posed for selfies on Westminster Bridge in the capital and enjoyed ice cream in Richmond Park, while families flocked to Bournemouth and Brighton for a day at the beach. Others, pictured, sunbathed in London’s Hyde Park
Forecasters had predicted glorious sunshine and clear skies across much of England and Wales during this week’s heatwave, as temperatures of nearly 30C (86F) are recorded in parts of London (pictured are people in Hyde Park) and the South East before surging to 34C (93F) on Friday
People basked in the British sunshine in London’s Hyde Park as temperatures rose to 28C (82F) in the capital on Thursday. A woman is pictured sunbathing in the park
Britain’s highest recorded June UK temperature was 35.6C (96F) at Southampton Mayflower Park in June 1976 – the year of a notorious summer heatwave. This year’s hottest day so far was the 27.5C (81F) set in mid-May at Heathrow. Pictured, a little girl enjoying the sunshine by taking a dip in the water at Hyde Park in London
The all-time temperature record for the UK is 38.7C (101F), which was set on July 25, 2019, in Cambridge University Botanical Gardens. Pictured, a woman sunbathing in London’s Hyde Park
Health bosses have urged people to watch for signs of heat exhaustion among the elderly and vulnerable, while hay fever suffers braced for a ‘pollen bomb’. Pictured in Hyde Park, London
Brighton beach was particularly packed on Wednesday as hundreds of Britons enjoy the sun by the seaside
Students April Phillips and Lada Miller, both 19, enjoy ice cream in Richmond Park, south-west London on Wednesday
People enjoy the sunny weather on Westminster Bridge by the Houses of Parliament, London on Wednesday
Sisters Olivia (left) and Grace Jenman, both 19, from Southampton sit on the beach at Brighton on Wednesday
Families head to Weymouth beach to enjoy the sunshine as temperatures rocket ahead of potential record-breaking heat on Friday
People take a selfie in front of the London Eye as they enjoy the sunny weather on Westminster Bridge ton Wednesday
Smartly dressed racegoers are pictured arriving ahead of Day 2 of Ascot Races on Wednesday
People using a pedal boat make their way along the river Avon during warm weather in Warwick on Wednesday
Sunbathers and picnickers enjoying the hot sunshine in Richmond Park, south-west London on Wednesday
Kings Meadow in Cambridge in full bloom on Wednesday as people go for a walk on a beautiful sunny day
People enjoying the hot weather in London’s Hyde Park as temperatures skyrocketed to 28C (82F)
Race-goers enjoy the second day of Royal Ascot in Ascot on Wednesday
Met Office graphs show clear skies above England and Wales on Wednesday, but a very high pollen count
The hottest ever June days in Britain on record
The hottest June days in the UK on record are June 29, 1957, and June 28, 1976.
On both those days, in London and Southampton respectively, a staggering 35.6C (96.1F) was recorded.
Met Office forecasters are saying that mercury levels could exceed even that on Friday – meaning we could be in for the hottest June day ever.
The Snowdome in Tamworth announced its swimming pool would be closed to customers until Thursday. Earlier this month, in Colchester, customers of the popular Leisure World were left disappointed when the firm confirmed it would be closing for a week.
Former Olympic gold medalist Duncan Goodhew, 65, urged the Government to intervene to help struggling businesses stay afloat.
He told BBC R4’s Today Programme: ‘The health and wellbeing benefits of swimming stand way above other physical activity.
‘In terms of it’s benefit and costs to society, in health terms, is massive.’
Chris Hayes, director of the Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association, blamed Covid outbreaks in China and worldwide supply issues on the UK’s temporary shortages of chlorine.
‘We are aware that some public pools have needed to close temporarily, and chemical suppliers will be working with these leisure facilities to look at other appropriate pool chemicals that can be used’, he said.
‘SPATA believes these issues will be short-term, but encourages leisure facilities to monitor the situation and work closely with their chemical supplier.’
It comes as parts of the UK sweltered in the hottest temperatures of the year so far on Wednesday.
Britain’s highest recorded June UK temperature was 35.6C (96F) at Southampton Mayflower Park in June 1976 – the year of a notorious summer heatwave. This year’s hottest day so far was the 27.5C (81F) set in mid-May at Heathrow.
The all-time temperature record for the UK is 38.7C (101F), which was set on July 25, 2019, in Cambridge University Botanical Gardens.
Met Office Deputy Chief Meteorologist Dan Rudman said: ‘Temperatures will continue to rise as we go through the week, becoming well above-average by Friday when many parts of the southern half of the UK are likely to exceed 30C and may even reach 34C in some places.
‘This is the first spell of hot weather this year and it is unusual for temperature to exceed these values in June.
‘Many areas will also see some warm nights with minimum temperatures expected to be in the high teens or even low 20Cs for some overnight.’
Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge added: ‘We have got high pressure at the moment so we are getting a certain amount of natural homegrown heat building up because obviously we have got clear skies and fairly dry ground conditions across southern England.
‘We have also got warmer air being brought up from further south in Europe where there has been a major heat incident, particularly in Iberia, so that’s leading to the sort of crescendo we will see on Friday.
‘Because of the direction of the flow, with the weather pattern we have got set up in our latitude, that is encouraging this warm flow of air to come further north.
‘We have got the heat building day by day. The next couple of days will be hotter than the preceding day. We think at the moment , although there is some uncertainty, that the weather temperatures will peak on Friday and then largely we will be in for a cooler day on Saturday.
‘Heat may remain potentially into Saturday but for most parts of the UK because we have got a cold front moving down from further north we will see temperatures coming back down – but they may just hang on in southern England.’
Dr Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre, said: ‘Climate change has increased the average temperature of UK summers, and it is also increasing the likelihood of experiencing more extreme temperatures during hot spells and heatwaves.
‘Reaching 34C during June is a rare, but not unprecedented, event in the historical climate records for the UK. But if it should happen this week it would be notable that it would have occurred on three days during the last six Junes.’
A young woman soaking up the sunny weather in Greenwich Park, London today
Two women talking as they sunbathe in London’s Hyde Park on Wednesday amid sizzling sunshine
Two women enjoy a picnic as they sit on the grass in London’s Hyde Park and enjoy the sunshine on Wednesday
Ben Goodall, 23, and Ally Fry, 21, take their dog Ollie for a walk in the sea at Sandbanks in Dorset on Wednesday
Sunbathers on the beach at Lyme Regis in Dorset enjoying the scorching hot sunshine on Wednesday
Families flock to Bournemouth beach in Dorset amid blue skies and glorious sunshine
Sunbathers on the beach at Lyme Regis in Dorset sit under an umbrella on Wednesday morning
A slightly crisp male sunbather sits on the beach at Lyme Regis in Dorset on Wednesday next to a woman
A woman relaxes while reading a book outside a seafront beach hut at Lyme Regis in Dorset on Wednesday
Sunrise in Roker in Sunderland this morning amid Britain’s June heatwave
A man standing on Glastonbury Tor at sunrise this morning
What is the definition of a UK heatwave?
A UK heatwave threshold is met when a location records a period of at least three consecutive days with daily maximum temperatures meeting or exceeding the heatwave temperature threshold.
The threshold varies by region. Generally –
- In London and the South East, a heatwave has to be hotter than 26C (78F).
- In the North, West and Northern Ireland, a heatwave has to be more than 25C (77F).
The map was recently updated to change the heatwave threshold for Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire to 27C
Source: The Met Office
Agostinho Sousa, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at the UK Health Security Agency, said: ‘Temperatures are forecast to reach 30C in some parts of the south on Friday and we want everyone to enjoy the hot weather safely when it arrives and be aware of good health advice for coping with warmer conditions.
‘During periods of hot weather it is especially important to keep checking on those who are most vulnerable, such as older people and those with heart or lung conditions.
‘Make sure to look out for signs of heat exhaustion and follow our simple health advice to beat the heat.’
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: ‘There is a low-risk of drought for public water supplies this summer. However, further hot, dry weather could put pressure on some areas.
‘Dry weather this spring has led to receding river flows and reservoir levels across central and south western England in particular.
‘Early June rainfall has offered some relief with river flows improving compared to the end of May, however a third of river flows remain below normal for the time of year.
‘As always, we continue to work with water companies and wider stakeholders to closely monitor water resources and take action, where necessary.
‘People should use water wisely and follow advice from their suppliers.’
The British Red Cross, meanwhile, has encouraged people to protect themselves and to check in with vulnerable friends, family and neighbours during the soaring temperatures.
It has given advice to help keep people healthy, including urging them to drink plenty of fluids but avoid excessive alcohol consumption, wear sun cream and keep workplaces and homes cool.
The RSPCA is urging dog owners to be aware of the dangers of walking their pets – especially ones with thick coats and underlying health conditions – during the warmer seasons.
Esme Wheeler, RSPCA dog welfare specialist, said: ‘The truth is walking dogs in hot weather can be a silent killer. While the majority would never leave our dogs in a car on a hot day, or even take our dogs for a really long walk in the heat, many people may still be putting their dogs at risk even on a short walk, or taking them to places such as fields and beaches with little or no shade.
‘We have long-campaigned that dogs die in hot cars, but this year we’re highlighting that dogs die on hot walks, too. The message remains very simple – never leave a dog in a hot car because ‘not long’ is too long, and when it comes to walks, ‘if in doubt, don’t go out.’
The Blue Cross urged cat owners to be careful when leaving windows open after one kitten fell from a third storey window and fractured her leg.
Some advice by the charity to cool pets down includes keeping cats indoors during the hottest points in the day, with windows open that have wire mesh or netting to prevent any injuries, and instead letting them out during the cooler parts of the day.
Forecasters are predicting that July and August will be hotter still, as the British summer truly kicks into gear.
The Weather Outlook forecaster Brian Gaze said: ‘It looks like sun cream conditions ahead, with a hotter-than-average July expected, with more hot spells in August.’