Whitchurch resident questions Shropshire Council’s commitment to swimming facilities.

Nick Saxby, Liberal Democrat campaigner in Whitchurch, has put questions to Shropshire Council’s cabinet regarding the potential for reopening the town’s swimming centre. The pool was closed earlier in the year as a result of covid-19, but it was announced this month that there are currently no plans to reopen it.

Mr Saxby wrote to the council; “The closure of Whitchurch Swimming Centre is understandable in the context of the covid outbreak. Public health and safety is paramount, and it is reasonable to have closed the pool to prevent the spread of disease. However, the perceived permanency of this closure is becoming frustrating to people in Whitchurch”.

“It is unlikely that social distancing measures will be removed any time in the near future, therefore, we should be looking to do everything we can to adapt to them. Simply closing the pool with no ambition to find creative solutions, does not seem to be in the public interest”.

Mr Saxby highlights the importance of the facilities for local people; “Given the importance of exercise for people’s wellbeing, as well as the popularity and impact of swimming on health and fitness”.

“People in Whitchurch are becoming increasingly fed up of the town being a low-priority for the council, and the swimming pool is just one example. I believe the council should be proactive and solution-oriented in to show Whitchurch it is concerned for the town’s wellbeing”.

Nick Saxby outside the closed Whitchurch Swimming Pool
Nick Saxby outside the closed Whitchurch Swimming Pool

Under the current arrangements, Whitchurch residents are being redirected to swimming centres in other towns, such as Market Drayton. However, Mr Saxby disagrees that this is a sustainable solution; he says; “I believe access to a public swimming pool is a reasonable expectation for a town of our size, a town which is also growing”.

“I have two young children, both of which were learning to swim at the pool just before the lockdown”, says Mr Saxby. “It saddens me that my children are potentially being disadvantaged by losing access to our local pool, so I felt that I had to try and take some sort of solution-oriented action”.

Shropshire Community Leisure Trust is under contract to provide Whitchurch Swimming Centre, as well as other sites across the county. After the pools at The Quarry in Shrewsbury, and Market Drayton are reopened, Whitchurch’s facility is the only one left closed by the trust.

The trust has previously stated; “Extensive investigations into the feasibility of reopening Whitchurch Swimming Pool” have taken place. However, Mr Saxby has asked whether these findings can be made available to the wider public, in the hope that there might be opportunities for solutions to be found.

Mr Saxby also raised concerns around the financial implications of the closure, specifically; “The extent to which the council is still paying for contracted services, and which entities are receiving compensation for the closure, and how this may be being spent”.

Mr Saxby hopes that if a wide range of stakeholders are engaged, there is hope that a plan can be realised for bring the pool back. He says; “I look forward to hearing how we can move forward with this. I believe that if our community is properly engaged, we can all work together on a solution”.