New pool may be too costly

THOUSANDS of swimmers could be left without a pool due to the huge cost of building a replacement.The public pool in Hadleigh is nearing the end of its expected lifespan and the latest estimate for a replacement is more than £3m.

THOUSANDS of swimmers could be left without a pool due to the huge cost of building a replacement.

The public pool in Hadleigh is nearing the end of its expected lifespan and the latest estimate for a replacement is more than £3m.

Babergh District Council admits the ''challenge of financing a new facility is probably one of the greatest presently facing the council''.

The council's strategy committee is being asked on August 4 to consider the principle of whether or not a new swimming pool in Hadleigh is affordable.


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Tim Mutum, Babergh's head of leisure and community services, said: ''Based on the best information available a new 25-metre pool would cost £3.25m. If a pool of a different length and specification were agreed then this would result in the cost likewise varying.

''Consideration has been given as to how this capital cost of £3.25m might be financed. At the invitation of this council the Babergh East Local Strategic Partnership investigated other potential sources of funding but concluded that none were available.

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''Under the current lottery funding programmes proposals for a new pool in Hadleigh would not meet the various criteria. This view has been confirmed by Suffolk County Council's external funding unit.''

He said the district council could obtain money if a supermarket was given permission for the Brett Works site in the town because the district and town councils owned land that could be required for access purposes.

''However, this is neither guaranteed nor would any such sum be likely to account for more than a part of the estimated £3.25m,'' said Mr Mutum.

The council could use £300,000 from its general fund reserves and borrow the rest of the cost of building a new pool. An increase of £5.20 a year on the council tax charge for a band D property would raise £168,000 towards the £197,000 annual repayments for the loan and the town council could also make a contribution.

It would cost more than £600,000 to undertake basic repairs, refurbishment and to renew the equipment but this investment, says the council, would not guarantee a medium or long term life for the pool due to concerns about the structural condition of the pool tank. The whole building would have to be demolished if the tank failed.

The five-lane 25-metre long pool opened in 1971. It cost £65,000 of which £20,000 was raised in the Hadleigh area with the balance coming from central and local government grants.

The pool is used for more than 85,000 swims each year and the council says this demand could not be met elsewhere because all other local swimming pools are operating at full capacity.

Residents will be asked for their views at a special public meeting at the end of August. The pool's future will also be discussed at the Hadleigh State of the District Forum in September.

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