Friday, October 13, 2006
Pool - ing of resources?
Residents were today preparing to fight to save three East Cleveland swimming pools amid fears they could be replaced with a single super-pool. The controversial proposals, which could see the closure of pools at Guisborough, Loftus and Saltburn, could also see the amalgamation of some leisure centres across Redcar and East Cleveland. They form part of a new tendering process to find the firm to run the borough's leisure centres. But Peter Clifford, a founder of Loftus Athletic Club, who has been involved in local sport for 30 years, said: "This is a public outrage. Thousands of people use the pools at Loftus, Saltburn and Guisborough. It appears that consideration is being made to close these baths and put a super-pool in their place. The obvious place to put that would be Redcar. It seems the only way the borough council has of dealing with public services is to close them. Amalgamation, in users' eyes, will mean closure. This could mean the number of baths in the borough being reduced from five down to two. I will be lobbying for all-party support against this and to bring it further out into the open. All users will be horrified by these proposals. Dave Fitzpatrick, Redcar and Cleveland Council's lead member for culture, leisure and tourism, confirmed that suggestions had been put forward but said further details could not be disclosed for legal reasons. He said: "Currently, these centres are run by Tees Valley Leisure, but their contract is coming to an end. Four companies, including TVL, are in the running. Some have suggested that some leisure centres be amalgamated. But amalgamation doesn't necessarily mean closure - it could mean relocation of resources. There is also a suggestion for a big swimming pool for East Cleveland, instead of having three others at Guisborough, Loftus and Saltburn." He added, "There has been a series of suggestions and a lot of these firms are looking at East Cleveland where some of the facilities are dilapidated. They want to improve services to the public and the structures of the buildings. The council will consider all options and there will be a two-year period before a final decision is made."