British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has upgraded a local electricity network just to power a large heated swimming pool at his private country home, The Guardian reported on Sunday. The move comes as dozens of public bathing facilities in the UK are closing down due to skyrocketing energy bills.
According to the news outlet, engineers installed “a substantial amount of equipment” and a new connection that runs across open fields to join the prime minister’s manor in North Yorkshire, northern England to the National Grid. It was said that Sunak will pay for the upgrade from his own pocket, with costs estimated at “tens of thousands of pounds.”
Sunak reportedly bought the estate in 2015 for £1.5 million ($1.8 million). Keeping the nearly-40ft pool warm will cost him around £13,000 ($15,600) a year, according to the Daily Mail.
More than 60 public pools closed across the UK between 2019 and 2022 due to rising energy costs and chemical shortages, the BBC said last year, citing data obtained through a freedom of information request. In July, British media reported that the large recreation center in Richmond, which is part of Sunak’s constituency, was one of the swimming facilities struggling to stay open.
On Tuesday, a House of Commons select committee said that “a lack of support” from the government has forced around 350 public pools to close or reduce opening hours.
In January, the government unveiled a program of discounts to help businesses cope with high electricity and gas bills. The scheme “provides long-term certainty” to those affected by the crisis, the government claimed in a statement.