Threatened pools set to open for summer
TWO open-air swimming pools in north Suffolk which were threatened with closure look almost certain to open for the summer season next month.The pools, at Dairy Hill in Halesworth, and nearby Beccles, looked like being forced to close after insurers insisted on £400,000 improvements before they would provide cover.
By David Lennard
TWO open-air swimming pools in north Suffolk which were threatened with closure look almost certain to open for the summer season next month.
The pools, at Dairy Hill in Halesworth, and nearby Beccles, looked like being forced to close after insurers insisted on £400,000 improvements before they would provide cover.
Waveney District Council operates both pools and last month council leader Mark Bee said that it was not possible to pay out that sort of money for pools that are only open for about 16 weeks a year between May and September.
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When the announcement was made there was an outcry in both towns as generations had learned to swim in the outdoor pools.
Mr Bee, accompanied by senior officers of the district council, attended public meetings in both Halesworth and Beccles, to listen to the views of local residents.
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“I was very impressed with the strength of feeling shown at Halesworth and together with council officers I have been trying to reach a compromise agreement with our insurers,” he said yesterday.
“Clearly we could not pay out more than £400,000 on the two pools but we have been in talks with the insurers to see what has to be done to enable the pools to stay open for the next two years while further investigations into possible funding are carried out.”
The council leader said there would be “positive” proposals to put to the members of the council's Executive when they meet tomorrow evening.
“I am confident the executive will support the proposals and then the matter would be put to the full council for a final decision,” he added.
“We are looking to have some good news for the many people who enjoy using the pools at Halesworth and Beccles.”
One of the reasons given for not providing cover by the insurance company was that the pools did not comply with the Disability Discrimination Act.
But it is hoped that improvements can be carried out at both pools to make it easier for disabled people to use the facilities.
Bill Pagan, chairman of Halesworth Town Council, said: “Everyone at the public meeting wanted to keep the pool open and now we have some breathing space to try and find organisations that would be prepared to help keep the pool open on a permanent basis.
“The pools at Halesworth and Beccles are the last publicly operated open-air swimming pools in Suffolk and we must do all we can to keep them open.”
Schools in the Halesworth area also hope to see the open-air pool kept open as it is used for swimming lessons and if it closed would mean costly journeys for staff and pupils to the indoor pools at either Bungay or Lowestoft.