Million pound pledge offers fresh hope for lido

IPSWICH: The council look set to gamble �1million on re-opening an historic open air swimming pool, the Evening Star can reveal today.

Broomhill Pool could open to the public again by 2013 or 2014 after the borough agreed to make �1million available to help fund its restoration.

Town politicians have given their backing to the idea – and insisted that spending �1 million in a time of cutbacks and economic uncertainty was feasible.

The search for a new operator will now restart – but the indications are that at least one firm believes it would be feasible to restore and operate the pool provided the �1m dowry is provided.

The tender will be advertised and the council hopes to have an operator appointed and in place to take over the pool – which was built in 1938 – by the middle of next year.

Ben Gummer, Ipswich MP said: “I’m very pleased that an opportunity has been found to re-open the pool – people have fought hard for this.

“I know the council will think very carefully about it and if a solution can be found that’s good for Broomhill and the tax payer then it should be supported.

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Dan Poulter, MP for North Ipswich, said: “I could understand people feeling concerned if �1 million was being spent on just a swimming pool. But this development includes a gym and other leisure facilities. It’s a good package and I hope Broomhill will once again be a fantastic community facility.”

Ipswich councillor with responsibility for culture and leisure Andrew Cann said the money would be made available from the borough’s capital budget and could make all the difference in getting the pool reopened.

He said: “We are not there yet, but this is a significant step.

“By offering this money the council should make it much more attractive for a potential operator and it should be much easier for such an operator to raise funds from a bank or the lottery heritage fund.”

A condition for any new operator would be that the pool would have to be open to the public for swimming – and much of the structure is a listed building.

“There has been discussion with a potential operator about building a health and fitness club on part of the site – that would be fine so long as there was still swimming available to the public here,” he said.

There is a possibility that a form of heating will be re-introduced at the pool. It was originally heated, but the boilers and tubes were removed at the start of the Second World War to be melted down for munitions.

However what is believed to be the leading bid does not feature a heated pool – although the possibility of introducing heaters is not ruled out in the long term.

n Opinion – page 6