MORE than 1,500 people have signed a petition urging council chiefs to re-think its proposals to create a six-lane swimming pool in Perdiswell.
Worcester City Council had planned to create a 25 metre, eight-lane pool at Perdiswell Leisure Centre, which would include an extensive 150-space gym, a cafe and a soft play area.
But the £13.5million scheme was scrapped after councils bosses said it was “unaffordable” and instead put forward proposals to extend the existing centre to house a six-lane pool.
Members of Worcester City Council’s cabinet backed the revised £6.5million project which will now go before full council in June where it is expected to be rubber stamped.
However, the move has angered Worcester Swimming Club, as chair Adele Rimell urged the council to be more ambitious.
“The city council leader has described this as an “exciting” proposal, but the swimming club and over 1,500 people who in the last couple of weeks have signed our petition for an eight lane pool do not share this view,” she said.
“The consequences of your decision on this pool will be with us long after you have all left office and it will be your legacy to Worcester. Short term constraints should not limit longer term ambition.”
Vivienne Williams-Hewitt, who was speaking on behalf of Worcester County Swimming Association at the meeting, added: “I would urge the cabinet to further consider the eight lane option and build a prestigious facility for the future and not just for the present – one that befits our city as well as being a flagship locally.”
However, Coun Roger Berry, cabinet member for Safer and Stronger Communities, said the council would be in ‘cloud cuckoo land’ if they went ahead with a scheme they could not afford.
“It is great to hear the comments made and certainly in a world without local Government cut backs I would be more than happy to be proposing a pool of eight lanes,” he said. “But I am afraid the reality is that we are living in a terribly tough environment.
“I was hoping that people will be really pleased tonight to hear that the swimming pool was on the agenda because I think on the level of cut backs we have had to make this year, it is a miracle that we are able to recommend this to the cabinet.”
Coun Adrian Gregson, leader of the city council, added: “I do recognise the concerns that people have made but what we will have is a better swimming pool than the one we currently have, which will be in a more accessible place and one which will be very positively and enthusiastically supported by this council.”
If the new pool does get the go-ahead in the summer, the existing swimming pool at Sansome Walk will continue to operate until the new one is open which is expected to be in 2016.