Swimming pool plan 'too expensive'

ANY new swimming pool for Hadleigh will be built on the existing site after a survey found it would be too expensive to move to the town's high school.

ANY new swimming pool for Hadleigh will be built on the existing site after a survey found it would be too expensive to move to the town's high school.

But there will still be a great deal of soul-searching before a new building, a replacement for the existing pool which dates from the 1970s, can be built and it is unlikely to be any larger than the existing pool.

Babergh District Council has linked up with Hadleigh Town Council and South Suffolk Leisure to form a steering group to look at the future of swimming in the town after a survey warned that the existing pool was nearing the end of its life and it would not be possible to repair it if it suffered a catastrophic failure.

However, after looking at all the options, the cost of a new pool is more expensive than had been hoped.

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Steering group chairman Nicholas Ridley, who is also leader of Babergh council, said: “We were looking at a cost of about £3.25 million - but it soon became clear that some of the options were much more than that.

“Because of difficulties with the site, it would cost about £8million to build a new pool at the high school so that really is a non-starter.

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“We've always said we would like to build a six-lane 25-metre pool, but even that is probably going to be too costly. We could get a five-lane pool just within the budget of £3.25m.”

But he warned that would require the whole-hearted support of all the partners - and a substantial cash injection.

He said: “Babergh will use its cash receipts - from the sale of East House, land for the Tesco development, and other sources.

“Now the town council will also have to step in and help as well - we need all the capital receipts we can get. That will still leave a big funding gap and the new council will have to decide whether to go ahead with the project in June.”

If the council does decide to press ahead with building the new pool, there would be a cost for council taxpayers.

Every £1 million spent on the new building would cost about £80,000 a year - and that is about 2.2p on a Band D council tax bill.

That will be bound to make the construction of a new pool a major issue in May's council elections.

A spokesman for Hadleigh Town Council said: “The town council deeply regrets Babergh council linking the financing of the new pool with the highly sensitive matter of the sale of the town council's allotment land.

“The Town Council has already voted not to take any action regarding this land until a firm planning application from Tesco has been lodged.”

The council has already raised £64,000 towards a new pool and expects to generate more than £120,000.

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