Hopes for Hadleigh pool begin to sink

SWIMMING in Hadleigh faces an uncertain future today after officials said they could not commend spending tax payers' money on a new pool.Babergh's strategy committee agreed that in the absence of external funding they could not recommend to full council "incurring the likely costs of building a new pool.

SWIMMING in Hadleigh faces an uncertain future today after officials said they could not commend spending tax payers' money on a new pool.

Babergh's strategy committee agreed that in the absence of external funding they could not recommend to full council "incurring the likely costs of building a new pool."

Councillors were concerned at meeting the estimated £3.2million through council tax after pledging to keep tax increases as low as possible.

Colin Spence, councillor for Waldingfield, said: "The issue we are talking about is affordability. The increase of 4.4 per cent (in council tax) will be over 60 years.

"This will be a commitment by this council for 60 years. Would we not be in danger if we put the tax up to that level of being capped and then not being able to do it anyway?"

Hadleigh Town Council has pledged to commit £29,000 towards building a new pool which is already being met by tax payers in the town.

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At the moment this is a one-off payment but the authority may agree to continue funding on an annual basis.

No further external funding is available as there is no allotted government money for swimming pool development.

Suffolk County Council is also only likely to match funding if it comes from another body despite several schools in the district using the pool.

This could create a problem in meeting National Curriculum requirements to teach primary school children to swim as the nearest pools are in Sudbury, Ipswich and Colchester.

The option to refurbish Hadleigh's pool is also unlikely to go ahead as the estimated cost would be £700,000 and would not guarantee the longevity of the pool.

Ryan Jones, head of technical services, said: "Two-thirds of the pool has no structural foundations and it is a bit of a mystery as to why it's standing.

"It has been there for 30 years in that condition. It could stand for another 30 years or it could leak tomorrow."

The pool is safe in its current condition but the council is unsure how much longer it will last.

Jim Quinlan, councillor for Hadleigh, said: "Why did we set out to build a swimming pool in Sudbury that has cost the same in a year as Hadleigh's cost to build?

"At consultations and referendums there is a unanimous feeling that they wanted a swimming pool in Hadleigh. If the people's voices are to be heard then that is what is to be done."

Fellow councillors argued that this might be the view in Hadleigh but residents across the district would be affected by tax hikes.

Further consultation will now take place with the public at meetings and forums across the district and it will remain with the full council to make a decision on the future of the pool.

A public meeting dedicated to the pool is due to take place in Hadleigh on August 31.

N What do you think about the future of swimming in Hadleigh? Write to us at Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters.co.uk.

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