Division over new pool idea

OPPOSITION politicians in Ipswich today warned that building a new Olympic-sized swimming pool in Portman Road might not be best for the town.

OPPOSITION politicians in Ipswich today warned that building a new Olympic-sized swimming pool in Portman Road might not be best for the town.

And they questioned whether the real reason for considering building a new swimming centre and selling off the site of Crown Pools was the state of the existing pools.

Labour leisure spokesman John Mowles said: “We keep hearing that Crown Pools was not maintained properly, but I think the pressure to move to a new site has more to do with the value of land in Crown Street.

“Let's face it, the Tories have never liked Crown Pools. If they had been in power it would never have been built in the first place.”

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Ipswich Borough Council has launched a feasibility study into the proposal to replace the ageing Crown Pools complex with a new 50metre pool and associated leisure facilities in a £24million centre opposite Ipswich Town Football Club.

Crown Pools faces a repair bill of up to £10m and some believe the cost of repairs and future maintenance makes a good case for building a new pool complex elsewhere.

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However Mr Mowles said the rest of the council was being kept out of discussions about the future of swimming in the town.

He said: “There has been one discussion about the idea of building a new swimming pool at the executive committee and there is only one opposition member on that. That is the only opportunity we have had to find out about the proposal.

“I am not saying there should not be a new pool but we need to know more before we can come to a decision.”

He warned that a 50-metre pool might be appreciated by serious swimmers and clubs but he was not sure it would attract casual swimmers.

He said: “The important thing is to get people to use the pool, and those I have spoken to are not at all convinced that a 50-metre pool is exactly what they want.

“If you don't have leisure facilities as well, how are you going to attract the casual swimmers, especially children?”

Borough council leader Liz Harsant said the value of the Crown Pools site was not the key factor in prompting the possible move to Portman Road. She said there was a need for a complete new pool complex.

“Crown Pools is not up to standard. What is disappointing is that it has got into this state in such a short time,” she said.

However she said any new pool in Portman Road would also have leisure facilities.

“We are not planning just to build a 50-metre pool. There would be facilities there for all the family - leisure would be a very important element,” she said.



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