Closing pools ‘would be a drastic move’

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Campaigners showed the public’s strength of feeling against Wakefield Council’s plans to close local leisure facilities when they staged a protest outside Pontefract Pool last week.

Dozens of people waved placards as campaigners handed over a 9,000-strong petition to the council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, Coun Les Shaw.

The petition was launched by the Pontefract Pool Users’ Forum after the council announced proposals to close Pontefract, Castleford and Knottingley swimming pools and replace them with one new leisure facility.

The announcement in February came after a district-wide leisure review was commissioned by the council as it looked to make savings following government cuts to its budget.

The report found that the three facilities needed £1.3m of urgent repairs and identified an over provision of pools in the Five Towns. Some of the suggestions currently being looked at include building a new leisure centre at Pontefract Park, in Glass Houghton or at the Prince of Wales Colliery site, Pontefract. The initial report also suggested upgrading the health and fitness centre at Knottingley.

Protester Jeff Allinson said: “Closing the pools would be a drastic move and it would badly affect both physical and mental health in the area.

“There is a lot of anger at the proposed closure of the pools. I do understand and sympathise with the council’s financial position but I feel this is so short sighted.”

Coun Shaw said: “We have already started discussions with the pool users’ forum and this petition will be considered as part of the consultation.”