The value and benefits a swimming pool brings to local communities is no secret and they’ve been well documented before.
I’m in agreement that councils must cut their cloth accordingly but in instances such as this, ‘centralisation’ for ‘better’ or more ‘efficient’ provision of swimming services will leave many people marginalised.
‘Budget cuts’ led to this - which means it’s about funding. £1.3m pounds of purported ‘urgent’ repairs are required to the pools. A new centralised facility will cost £13m to build. Fundamentally, the costs will come from the same budget. There’s no compelling argument or hard evidence shown where £13m being spent here is better value than £1.3m of repairs to existing services, leaving the pools in use for their local communities. If there is evidence, let’s have it in black and white.
Having constructed Don Valley Stadium and Ponds Forge in Sheffield, I’m well placed to understand budgets and technicalities around this matter. The key questions everyone should be asking is ‘How is the figure of £1.3m of repairs distributed between the three pools?’ and ‘what are the details of the repairs to each?’ The first will answer where the biggest risk lies, the second will show what the council considers ‘urgent’.
The simplistic view is that it’s cheaper to maintain one facility ongoing than three. In this case, the new service won’t match community need. It’ll be over-crowded; it’ll be less accessible. Pools were for local communities and these facilities are not even that old. The people who need them most won’t get on buses or trains to spend 30 minutes getting to a new facility. Convenience is key.
You’ve already got facilities – maintain them and spend your taxpayers’ money more prudently. A new facility at Glass Houghton is ill-conceived and, typically, short-sighted.
Allan McKenzie (Snr)