Swimming pool future in doubt

FUNDING a new swimming pool in Hadleigh would hit the pockets of tax payers across Babergh, it has been claimed today.

FUNDING a new swimming pool in Hadleigh would hit the pockets of tax payers across Babergh, it has been claimed today.

According to a new report the cost of a new six lane, 25m pool has been estimated at being between £5.5m and £7.2m, much more than the £3.2m that Babergh District Council, Hadleigh Town Council and South Suffolk Leisure Trust are likely to be able to raise from their own funds, and resulting in a hike in council tax rates of between eight and nine per cent.

The new estimated costs cast more doubt over the future of the troubled project to redevelop or rebuild a pool for Hadleigh, with Babergh District Council and Hadleigh Town Council frequently clashing over the issue and a 2005 survey suggesting just 18 pc of residents backed an above-inflation increase in council tax to pay for the pool.

The Hadleigh Pool Steering Group, which includes the two councils and the leisure trust, is now due to consider the report on August 7.


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Councillor Nick Ridley, Babergh's strategy committee chairman, said: “In light of the results of the consultants' report, the key challenge for Babergh is now to consider whether swimming can be retained in the town in the long-term or whether the health and well-being of residents both in the town and outside it may be better served by either refurbishing the existing facility or investing in other leisure and community services in the town.”

At next week's meeting the steering group will consider if a new pool can be built for £3.2m, if the current pool can be refurbished or if it will need to close.

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Cllr Ridley added: “These are tough options and even if one of the first two is backed there is still the possibility that the pool may have to be closed because of equipment failure.

“As in the past, Babergh will strive to work with its partners to ensure the best available future for leisure facilities in the town.”

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