A DECISION on whether Worcester’s new swimming pool will be six or eight lanes is set to be made in the next few weeks.
Under the previous Labour-led administration, Worcester City Council approved plans to create a six-lane 25 metre pool at Perdiswell Leisure Centre in April.
But at a meeting on Tuesday (July 29), the council’s Conservative-led cabinet decided to review the possibility of building an eight-lane pool while talks continue with Sports England and other potential funding organisations.
Coun David Wilkinson, cabinet member for Safer and Stronger Communities, who is in charge of the project, said he had also held meetings with the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) and Worcester Swimming Club to help them come up with a final decision, which is expected to be made in September.
“During the meeting I had with the ASA, I asked them what is the key feature which would determine the attractiveness of having a larger pool and they were quite adamant that it has to have eight lanes, so that will be one thing we will be looking at,” he said.
Coun Simon Geraghty, leader of Worcester City Council, added: “I want to make absolutely sure the option we are going to be going ahead with is something which is the best Worcester can afford because it is going to be something we will live with for 40 years or more.
“So taking a period of six to eight weeks to reassure ourselves seems very little time as we will be living with the consequences of that decision for many years to come.”
Coun Liz Smith, the city’s only Liberal Democrat councillor, also welcomed plans to extend and refurbish the centre on Bilford Road, but she said she was disappointed the Conservatives did not make their feelings heard in April.
“I understand there is a desire to get an eight-lane pool, but I do wonder why the decision in April was not challenged by your group at that point,” she said.
“I am not saying it would have made much difference to the ultimate decision but if you don’t challenge there is no chance of achieving a different decision.”
However, Coun Geraghty insisted the pool was part of their manifesto ahead of the local elections in May, while Coun Lucy Hodgson added: “This is probably one of the most important decision we are going to have to make as a councillors – certainly in my lifetime so it is important that we get it right for Worcester and if that means delaying it then I don’t think there is an issue.”