Broomhill pool faces uncertain future

STAFF at the largest outdoor swimming pool in East Anglia have been warned this may be its last summer.In 1998 Broomhill Pool in Ipswich was given £90,000-worth of emergency repairs to ensure it could remain open for another five summers.

STAFF at the largest outdoor swimming pool in East Anglia have been warned this may be its last summer.

In 1998 Broomhill Pool in Ipswich was given £90,000-worth of emergency repairs to ensure it could remain open for another five summers.

That period is now up, and it now looks as this summer's poor weather could be the final nail in the pool's coffin.

Staff have been informally warned by their bosses that this summer is likely to be the last that the 1930s-built pool will be open.

And council chiefs are currently studying a report showing how much its services cost.

That is thought to show that the pool represents poor value for money – but it is very dependent on the weather.

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A good summer can bring the crowds flocking to the pool. This year few people have been brave enough to test the unheated water.

Council leisure spokesman John Mowles accepted this could be its last year.

"We don't know anything for certain, and before any decisions are made we will be looking for the views of the public," he said.

"But this is the fifth summer since the major repairs, it's the time when we knew hard decisions would have to be made.

"No one has said that the pool will close – but I'm sure the staff are aware that this could be its last summer."

In 1998 serious structural problems with the pool were identified – including cracks causing it to leak.

The repairs were only seen as a short-term solution. If the pool is to have a long-term future it would need total rebuilding at a cost of about £2.5 million.

Each swim at the pool is heavily subsidised by the council – in 1999 effectively got a subsidy of £11.51 from council tax payers.

And in 2000, only 13,158 people used the pool – but it cost well over £200,000 to operate.

Former channel swimmer Mike Read trains in the pool regularly and said it would be a tragedy if it did close.

"The council are not trying to make the most of the pool – yesterday it closed at 3pm, before the children came out of school," he said.

"The pool could be much better used, by schools and by other organisations like canoeing clubs or sub-aqua groups.

"I know there is a cost to running it, but if you teach lifesaving you would save that money – and if kids don't go swimming there they will find other places like rivers or the sea which is much more dangerous," he said.

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