More open air swimming pools close

THE closure of Suffolk's last open air swimming pools has been branded an “appalling state of affairs” by a campaigner.

Simon Tomlinson

THE closure of Suffolk's last open air swimming pools has been branded an “appalling state of affairs” by a campaigner.

Sally Wainman has spoken out after Waveney District Council decided not to open the lidos at Beccles and Halesworth this season due to a lack of funds.

She said it marked the end of an era when people would gather to socialise while taking a dip and has renewed her call for councils to take the plunge and invest in the pools.

Mrs Wainman, who has battled for several years to convince Ipswich Borough Council to re-open Broomhill Pool after it shut down in 2002, also claimed there would be a negative impact on people's health.

“Given the concern about obesity and diabetes, and of course the focus on the Olympics, this is an appalling state of affairs,” said Mrs Wainman, who has set up a campaign forum called Pooling Resources.

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“The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is advising people not to swim in lakes and rivers because it is dangerous yet simultaneously all our open air pools are closing.

“Meanwhile, children growing up in today's society are leading more and more of their lives indoors. They should not be deprived of the chance to swim outdoors in a safe and supervised environment.

“Outdoor pools also provide a more social environment. People used to meet and talk, but you don't do that so much in an indoor pool.”

More than 300 pools have closed across the country over the last 30 years, leaving just 100 open, she claimed.

Some of the victims in Suffolk include Piper's Vale, just outside Ipswich, Lowestoft Bathing Pool, Oulton Broad Pool and The Pightle Pool in Haverhill, according to Liquid Assets, a book published by English Heritage in 2005.

But Mrs Wainman said there were successful examples including at Cheltenham, Peterborough and Ickley in Yorskhire, and she is confident the culture of outdoor swimming can be revived.

She said: “Ipswich Borough Council, for example, like to peddle the old myths that lidos are only open a few weeks a year and are terribly expensive.

“This is just not true - a heated pool can be open easily from April through to October and additional attractions like a well-run cafe or restaurant will bring customers in, even if they don't always want to swim.”