Pool gamble worthwhile
IPSWICH Borough Council is right to take a £67,000 gamble on getting lottery cash to restore Broomhill swimming pool – but it needs everyone to recognise that this is a gamble, with only a limited chance of success.
IPSWICH Borough Council is right to take a £67,000 gamble on getting lottery cash to restore Broomhill swimming pool - but it needs everyone to recognise that this is a gamble, with only a limited chance of success.
Reading between the lines of this week's report to the borough's executive committee, no one can be sure of a positive response from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
But sometimes even councils have to take a leap of faith and although it sounds a large figure for you and me, £67,000 isn't an unreasonable sum for an organisation like the borough to stake on a gamble like this - the rewards could be very great.
However thought does need to be given to what should happen if the HLF doesn't stump the cash.
In that case the council really does need to take a hard decision - to send in the bulldozers and clear the site.
Ipswich council can't afford the estimated £3 million plus needed to restore the pool on its own.
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Look at the figures for the number of people who used the pool in its last four years - and at the cost of running the pool.
Think how attractive the open-air, unheated swimming pool would be in the lousy weather this summer if it was open.
I know many people have enjoyed a lot of great times at the pool over the years, and if there was another very hot summer people would flock there again - but there is no way the council could justify a £3m plus bill to provide fun for people one summer in every three or four.
The very worst thing that could happen is to leave the derelict pool sitting there like a festering sore waiting for a fairy godmother to turn up and restore it.
That isn't going to happen. If there's no lottery money then that has to be it. The campaigners will have given the pool their best shot but they have to be prepared to move on.
I know some politicians feel it's not worth taking a £67,000 gamble - they just say the pool should not have got into this state in the first place.
That's true. The pool's current state is a testament to years of procrastination and the NIMTOO (Not In My Term Of Office) syndrome where you put off a decision on investment - or take the easy option - until the day that everything crumbles around you.
I have sympathy for those who say it shouldn't have reached this state, but the fact of the matter is that it has.
If we could turn the clock back 10 or 15 years and do the substantial work when it would have "only" cost a few hundred thousand pounds then we would.
Unfortunately that isn't possible and we are faced with a pool that needs many millions spent on it if it is to have a viable future.
Let's hope the lottery rides to its rescue - but if it doesn't we have to face facts.
There will be bureaucratic problems if the pool is to be demolished - it is a listed building - but these are not insurmountable.
Everyone will hope the gloomy predictions are wrong, that the HLF does stump up the money for the restoration, and the pool can be fully rebuilt and still be going strong in 20 years time.
But if that doesn't happen the borough needs to clear the site and create something different there instead.
Maybe it could be a state-of the art skatepark. Perhaps some of the buildings could become a kiosk for Broomhill Park.
It must not just be left for years - or decades - to become a haunt for glue-sniffers and drug addicts.