Article by Charles Thomson: An investigation has been launched into whether Billericay Swimming Pool should be closed.
The ’options and viability appraisal’ was ordered after a Basildon Council report said more than £1million would have to be spent to keep the pool, in Lake Meadows, functional for the next 10 years.
In July, the council’s Policy and Resources Committee postponed £150,000 of scheduled works at the pool after Paul Brace, manager of leisure facilities, said the figure would only pay for a fraction of the required works.
He told the July meeting:
“My understanding is that the pool needs some quite extensive investment in it. The figure I’ve seen quoted is up to £600,000.”
A report produced since has claimed the investment needed is actually £1.2million – on top of £100,000 already spent.
It states that ’a number of key mechanical and electrical components [are] nearing or past their design life’. It adds that changing rooms, ’the overall pool plant’, the exterior of the building and the poolside are all ’in need of urgent works’.
The report lists five options to be considered, one of which is to ’serve notice and close the facility’.
The ’viability appraisal’ has been commissioned into whether the closure is necessary or can be avoided by selecting one of four other options. But Tory leader Phil Turner said he believed there was ’no doubt’ that the administration was now ’looking for a reason to close Billericay Pool’.
He said he believed the move was being plotted as ’revenge’ for the closure and demolition of Pitsea Swimming Pool five years ago by the Tory administration, as part of a regeneration project. He said:
“This seems to me like smoke and mirrors operation by the Labour-led coalition. This is what I would call a dog and pony show, so that they can propose the pool for closure. They are going to come back and say it’s going to cost too much. That is what I think this is all about. I think it’s political spite. It’s revenge.”
The Basildon Tories Twitter account expressed similar sentiments, saying the viability study was ’doubtless with a view to closure’.
Labour councillor Gavin Callaghan, de factor ’leader’ of the council since May, responded on Twitter:
“We haven’t decided what we are doing. Yet the Tories scaremonger and say we are closing the pool. They had 15 years to sort it and failed. We’ll get it right.”
The result of the investigation is due to be published in January.
Article by Charles Thomson, The Yellow Advertiser