Swaffham swimming pool dream 'not viable', councillor warns
A new public swimming pool in Swaffham is unlikely to be viable, despite overwhelming public support for the idea, a district councillor has warned.
The comments came after questions were raised about whether the project would be included in a new study of leisure provision.
But campaign leaders have accused district council chiefs of not doing enough to help the scheme go forward.
A survey published by the Swaffham Swimming Pool group last month suggested that almost 97 per cent of respondents would swim more often if there was a facility in the town.
Campaign officials hoped the findings would lead to further discussions with both Breckland Council and Sport England in order to finally make progress on the long-standing ambition.
But, during the public session of Wednesday’s town council meeting, residents asked whether the pool would be part of Breckland’s review of leisure facilities.
The authority set aside £50,000 in the summer to conduct a feasibility study into the provision of what it described as a “commercial leisure” offer in the town.
And Ian Sherwood, one of the town’s district councillors, said the pool campaign group had not provided a business case for it.
He suggested it would be “extremely difficult” for a body such as Sport England to fund the project based on the size of the town’s population, which he said was the 19th largest in Norfolk.
And he said: “If they came to me with the detail, I would gladly back it and take it to Breckland. That has not been forthcoming. It’s got to be financially viable. It’s not. I’m sorry, it’s not.”
But deputy mayor Jill Skinner said the group had been given “no help” by the district council.
And, following the meeting, Helen Manson, from the group, said: “We had been talking to Breckland and Sport England and are very disappointed in the attitudes of Breckland.
However, Shirley Matthews said an opportunity had been missed around 20 years ago when a layout which Sport England would have been prepared to fund was turned down by the organisation leading the campaign for a pool at the time.