Kidsgrove residents may have to wait several years for their swimming pool to reopen

Thursday, January 31st, 2019 11:18am

By Jenny Bonson & Kerry Ashdown, Local Democracy Reporter @newsjenny

Newcastle Borough Council won't help fund plans to reopen Kidsgrove's swimming pool for three years.

The Sports Centre was closed in June 2017, due to rising repair and maintenance costs - with suggestions it needed £2.4m of work to bring it up to scratch.

Last year Staffordshire County Council agreed to transfer ownership of the centre – plus £363,000 – to Newcastle Borough Council, which is working with Kidsgrove Sports Centre Community Group to bring the site back into use.

The group is working towards reopening the “dry” facilities – the gym and sports hall – by this summer.

It is also applying for grants towards funding the reopening of the swimming pool.

But a Borough Council meeting discussing the authority’s 10 year plan for major projects has heard it does not plan to invest in the sports centre’s swimming pool for at least three years.

Councillor Mike Stubbs, chairman of the Finance, Assets and Performance Scrutiny Committee, said: “While I support (the Capital Strategy) – I think it is great we are trying to have a bit of vision going forward – is it right that Kidsgrove can expect no help from Newcastle Borough Council with capital over the next three years? Money is welcomed – but from year four.

“I wish the community group as much success as they can get. They are not talking about a pool opening any time soon.

“According to the strategy (there is) significant funding coming in year six. It suggests to me there isn’t going to be a facility for six to seven years in Kidsgrove.”

Jan Willis, Interim Director of Resources and Support Services responded: “The funding for Kidsgrove Sports Centre doesn’t kick in until years four and five of a 10-year strategy. However, I can pick out a couple of investments in Kidsgrove in years one to three.”

Deputy council leader Stephen Sweeney, cabinet member for finance and efficiency, said: “They are setting up the dry site at the moment. They will take it forward from that – that’s the scheduling of the works.”

Committee member Councillor Paul Waring highlighted the difficulty involved in investing smaller amounts of money on the pool across more years. He said; “You have to have a little bit of swimming pool every year. What we need is a big lump.

“I would like to see a new pool in Kidsgrove. I think it is a long time to wait.

“Newcastle got a new swimming pool when it could have managed. If there was a way we could move it forward for the people of Kidsgrove they deserve it.”

Speaking after the meeting Councillor Stubbs – the current Kidsgrove Mayor – said: “I’m livid the pool is left out of funding for the next three years. It shows what little time the council has got for the health and safety of residents.

“Where are they supposed to go? They are forced to go into a different county or have to travel to Newcastle to learn to swim.

“It feels like the council has abandoned Kidsgrove from a leisure point of view.”

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