New twist in pool car park row

MOVES to turn a free swimming pool car park into a pay and display are today facing a set-back.Ipswich Borough Council's executive decided Fore Street Baths Car Park is set become a public pay and display following a council decision earlier this week.

MOVES to turn a free swimming pool car park into a pay and display are today facing a set-back.

Ipswich Borough Council's executive decided Fore Street Baths Car Park is set become a public pay and display following a council decision earlier this week.

But Labour borough councillors David Ellesmere and John Le Grys are objecting and the council's overview and scrutiny committee has now called in the scheme to review the decision.

The two councillors claim no consultation was carried out with pool users and representations from pool users were ignored.

They are worried that the move will affect the pool's viability and claim that information in the report looking into the proposal was incomplete.

Mr Ellesmere said: "We were concerned the council hadn't consulted with any users of the pool before the decision was made.

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"We had received a letter from Heartbeat (a heart patient self-help group that uses the pool).

"They were concerned that if a pay and display is brought in some swimmers may not be able to afford it and if it is a public car par there may be no space for swimmers. These concerns weren't properly addressed at the meeting.

"We are also worried the decision will affect the long-term viability of the pool."

Although the council hopes the pay and display would bring an extra £30,000 a year from parking income, the report also found the move could cut pool visitor levels by ten per cent, leading to an annual loss of around £12,000.

The overview and scrutiny committee can rule the decision was correct, ask the executive to reconsider or ask the full council to decide.

Committee chairman and borough councillor Neil MacDonald said: "This gives non-executive councillors a chance to reconsider the decision. We would welcome any views that users of the pool have on the decision."

Inga Lockington, portfolio holder for environment and transport, said: "It is the scrutiny committee's right to look at any decision they want to. That is how the system works. I don't see it as a blow at all."

Mrs Lockington said no representations would be ignored and that once the pay and display charges are introduced, the effect on Fore Street Baths will be monitored for six months.

She added that a formal pay and display car park would address the problem of double parking at peak times and would give people visiting the waterfront area a place to park legally.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the overview and scrutiny committee's meeting the Civic Centre, Civic Drive, Ipswich at 6.30pm on Thursday, March 3.

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