Crunch meeting on future of town's pool

By Rebecca SheppardA PUBLIC meeting will put the future of a town's swimming pool under the spotlight tonight.Babergh District Council has called the meeting to air issues about the controversial Hadleigh swimming pool.

By Rebecca Sheppard

A PUBLIC meeting will put the future of a town's swimming pool under the spotlight tonight.

Babergh District Council has called the meeting to air issues about the controversial Hadleigh swimming pool.

It is more than 30 years old and nearing the end of its natural life, but the council cannot afford the £3.25million price tag for a new pool on its own.


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But the Hadleigh Town Forum, which is supporting the Stonehouse Road pool, accused the council of not being transparent about its plans.

In a statement, the forum said: “Their record of actions to date have done nothing to allay peoples' suspicions of 'hidden agendas' and priorities of 'wider issues' in connection with Hadleigh pool.”

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The forum said people at its public meeting last September had voted almost unanimously to keep a swimming pool in Hadleigh and to pay increased council tax to cover the cost of a new facility.

It is planning to use tonight's meeting, in the Grand Hall of the Guildhall in Hadleigh, to ask whether funding sources have been investigated.

The forum's statement warned: “There is a real danger that our swimming facilities could be lost in the very near future if Babergh District Council are not given an overwhelming consensus that they would be foolish to ignore.

“This meeting is a golden opportunity for the public to question Babergh's current view on the importance of swimming facilities in our town and to influence the final outcome.”

Tim Mutum, the council's head of leisure and community services, said the meeting would give residents a chance to submit written questions to a panel of councillors.

“Babergh councillors will be considering the affordability of any new Hadleigh Pool within the wider context of the council's budget for 2005/06. There are two key issues that need to be borne in mind,” he said.

“Firstly, Babergh councillors will have to ascertain the level of support across the whole of the district, and not just in Hadleigh, in paying for a £3.25m replacement for the existing 30-year plus facility and, therefore, having to impose above-inflation council tax increases.

“Secondly, Babergh councillors will be giving careful consideration to the Government's stated intention to cap the budgets of local authorities that agree to any inflation-busting tax increases.”

Residents wanting to attend today's meeting should arrive as early as possible after 7.30pm to secure a place.

rebecca.sheppard@eadt.co.uk

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