Threat to future of pools

THE future of two open-air swimming pools in north Suffolk is in jeopardy after surveys revealed more than £120,000 is needed to pay for urgent repairs.

THE future of two open-air swimming pools in north Suffolk is in jeopardy after surveys revealed more than £120,000 is needed to pay for urgent repairs.

The pools, at Halesworth and Beccles, are open during the summer months and have been a popular attraction in the towns for many years.

Both are operated by Waveney District Council and members are now being asked to set up a working party to investigate their future use.

The pools open for 15 weeks a year but a lack of investment has led to a gradual deterioration in vital equipment.

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The mechanical plant comprising filtration, heating and disinfection systems at the Beccles pool, near the River Waveney, needs to be replaced at a cost of £60,000.

A survey has also revealed that the general condition of buildings, pool tank and the surrounding area is poor.

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Fencing around the pool, coping stones around the toddler pool and a timber clad toilet block all need replacing, according to the report.

The Halesworth pool at Dairy Hill also needs a new filtration, heating and disinfection system that will cost in the region of £45,000.

A further £20,000 is needed to repair and improve the main office and changing areas.

British Masters swimming champion Neil Howell, of Halesworth, who has been involved in swimming clubs in both towns for many years, hopes they will continue to operate.

“Every year at the end of the summer season we are left wondering if the pools will open again the following year,” he said.

“So far they have but it would be an absolute tragedy if either outdoor pool was forced to close.”

This year at Halesworth more than 230 children achieved awards for distance swimming and water skills following the launch of the Halesworth Ducklings.

“I know the Halesworth Ducklings project has been a great success and there are already many parents enquiring about next year,” added Mr Howell.

“It also has to be stated that swimming pools are a public service that can help save lives and are not there to make a profit.”

Despite the summer heat wave this year, both pools operated at a loss.

The operating costs for Beccles show a deficit on the budget of £36,280 and £27,180 at Halesworth.

In 2002 ­- the most recent year figures are available for - 19,155 people used the 44-year-old pool at Beccles and 6,746 visited Halesworth, which opened in 1972.

It is believed that a similar number of people used the pools this year.

A spokesman for Waveney District Council said no decision has been taken on the future of the two outdoor pools.

The council also operates two indoor pools that are open all year round at Lowestoft and Bungay.

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