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Leaders going to great lengths over £10.5million pool plan

Worcester Editorial 22nd Sep, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

AMBITIOUS plans to create a £10.5million eight-lane swimming pool in Worcester have been backed by council leaders.

Members of Worcester City Council’s cabinet voted in favour of proposals to build an eight-lane 25 metre pool at Perdiswell Leisure Centre last Tuesday (September 16).

The new proposals will see the existing leisure centre extended to accommodate the pool and seating for 250 spectators.

A previous Conservative-backed £13.5million scheme in 2012 and Labour’s scaled-back £7.7million plan in April both failed to get off the ground.

Speaking at the meeting, Neil Monkhouse, the former chairman of Worcester Swimming Club, said he felt the council had come to “some sort of compromise” before cabinet members gave their approval.

A six-lane ‘community’ swimming pool, which would cost £9million to create, was also one of the options put forward by the Tory leadership.

But Coun David Wilkinson, cabinet member for Safer and Stronger Communities, said they were in favour of an eight lane pool as he said it was more ambitious for the city.

He also believed the cost of the build was “somewhat conservative” despite Mr Monkhouse saying the yearly tax subsidy of £493,000 was “scaring people”.

Coun Liz Smith was among some councillors to raise concerns about the consequences of building such an expensive pool, but Coun Simon Geraghty, leader of Worcester City Council, said it was important to create a pool, which would maintain the city’s level of aspiration.

“I think the question to council is what kind of city do we want to be build and what facility to do we want to have?” he said. “We want to be a great city with a great future, so why can’t we have a great pool?

“If we set a vision for the city we have got to honour that.”

Once the proposed development has been completed at Bilford Road, the city’s current pool at Sansome Walk will be demolished and Coun Lucy Hodgson said it was a “fitting replacement”.

“We are an ambitious county city that is becoming a centre of excellence for sports,” she added.

“We cannot be a city without a swimming pool, so we must build the best we can afford.”

The proposals will now be debated at a meeting of full council on Tuesday (September 30).

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