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Sink or swim for Hadleigh pool

PUBLISHED: 15:32 27 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:54 03 March 2010

IT'S sink or swim time for water lovers in Hadleigh today … and as these excited children's faces show the message is don't leave us high and dry!

The Hadleigh Swimming Club annual championships got underway this year to the daunting backdrop of the possible closure of the pool.

IT'S sink or swim time for water lovers in Hadleigh today … and as these excited children's faces show the message is don't leave us high and dry!

The Hadleigh Swimming Club annual championships got underway this year to the daunting backdrop of the possible closure of the pool.

Shouting to be heard over cheering and splashing club chairman Stephen Mitchell spoke of the vitality of the club and the disastrous consequences he saw for the community if the pool closes.

"The swimming club and the primary schools are the two main groups that use the pool. Hadleigh Swimming Club has 180 members so that's how many people who, if the pool were to close, would have nothing to do with themselves.

"And it means that the provision for primary schools for teaching swimming in this area would disappear," he said.

"It all comes down to funding and funding can only be derived if there is enough community commitment."

Early indications from a survey looking at leisure needs in the town suggest that the people of Hadleigh have come out strongly in favour of the continued provision for swimming in the town.

Mr Mitchell said: "It's a crummy pool. It's dirty and in need of repair but the reality is it's the only pool we have and if it's a choice between this and nothing we would choose this.

"We know from experience that the mums and dads here will not take their children to other swimming clubs in the area because we have tried.

"We tried to work with the Sudbury club but the parents won't travel there and Ipswich swimming club is very competitive. Our children would just get lost in it and wouldn't go.

"We are a feeder club for the big clubs. But if they rip all the pools out and take them away who is going to fed the bigger clubs.

Hadleigh Swimming Club was born more than 30 years ago, in the year the pool was built, and Mr Mitchell is among those who have been with the club from the start. Some club members are second or even third generation users.

But while the club has gone from strength to strength its home has deteriorated with age and Babergh District Council has promised only to keep the pool open until 2005.

Leicester based consults Haley Sharpe have recently completed their survey and Mr Mitchell welcomes the opportunity he was given to put the view point of the club directly to the firm but adds "at the end of the day it's not us that makes the decision".

Other than close the facility down there are two main options available to the council. They could refurbish the pool at an estimated cost of £1.5m or they could rebuild it, either on the existing site or elsewhere, which depending on the nature of the facility could cost from £2m upwards.

"That's why it's important to keep the profile up, as the higher the profile the stronger the argument for funding," added Mr Mitchell.

Head of leisure and community services at Babergh District Council, Tim Mutum > said it was too early to comment on the findings in the Haley Sharpe survey.

However he added: "It wouldn't surprise me if there was strong demand for swimming facilities in the town."

The findings of the report are due to be released early next year.

www.hadleighswimmingclub.co.uk

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