THE ONGOING saga of the city’s bid to build a new swimming pool has taken another twist after the new leader of Worcester City Council vowed to explore more ambitious options.
A scaled-back plan to build a six-lane pool at Perdiswell Leisure Centre looked set to go ahead after the Labour-led cabinet backed the £6.5 million scheme in April.
But more than 1,500 people signed a petition, which was set up by Worcester Swimming Club, urging council chiefs to re-think their proposals, which were expected to be rubber stamped this summer.
And Coun Simon Geraghty, who took over as leader of the city council after the Conservatives won back power in the Guildhall last week, has assured members of the club he would carry out a review of what has been tabled.
The current project costs about £7million less than what the Tories tabled in 2013, which included an eight-lane pool, and Coun Geraghty said he would consider returning to his party’s plan if it was affordable.
“We believe the council should be building the swimming pool that Worcester deserves and there was a feeling this compromise option was was not quite what people had envisaged,” he said.
“When we were running the council we had a very firm plan to have a brand new pool and leisure centre in Perdiswell. We got the planning permission and we were cracking on with it.
“They (the Labour group) reduced the financial envelope we were operating in, so they proposed to add the pool to the existing centre.
“What we want to do is look at that and say ‘is that the best we can deliver for Worcester’ as we are not yet convinced it is. We want to look again to see whether reverting back to the previous option or exploring a variant of the option put forward is something which is affordable and deliverable.”
Coun Geraghty said it could take up to two months to make a decision as he said David Wilkinson, cabinet member for Safer and Stronger Communities, would be holding meetings with Worcester Swimming Club to come up with the ‘most ambitious plan’ for the city.
Adele Rimell, chairman of the club, added: “We are pleased at the new council’s initiative to explore more ambitious options and their desire to secure best value for money.
“We welcome an invitation from Coun Geraghty to be an integral part of the new review along with experts from our governing body – the Amateur Swimming Association.”