'Don't let Scartho Baths go until we have a new 50-metre pool'
SCARTHO Baths must not be demolished until plans for a regional centre of excellence – complete with a 50-metre pool – are in place.
That is the view of regular swimmer and semi-retired fish merchant Richard Macklam, from Laceby, who is asking North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) to reconsider closing the baths until wider consultation has taken place.
As reported, the pool is set to close in about two years' time and a new one built as part of a £7.5 million project at Grimsby Leisure Centre, featuring a 25-metre pool and a new gym.
However, Mr Macklam says a 25-metre pool is insufficient and a 50-metre competition-sized pool must be provided to allow the region's swimming talent to train to compete on a national stage.
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He says NELC must work with national bodies such as Sport England, the National Lottery and the Amateur Swimming Association to garner extra support and funding for the larger pool.
He added: "There is no doubt that there are youngsters in this area who could be the next Rebecca Adlington. But without the right facilities they will have to travel miles to train and will not reach the top of their game.
"We need a 50-metre swimming pool in this area and Scartho Baths must not be demolished until further plans are in place to build one. Scartho is in a great location, right in the centre of town with plenty of land surrounding it, and I am positive the majority of people would rather it was upgraded than demolished.
"Surely a 37-metre pool is better than one that is only 25 metres?"
Mr Macklam, who swims at Scartho five times a week, says the council needs to take a step back from the existing proposals and consider the views of local people.
He added: "It seems to me that the council is trying to rail-road through this scheme with little understanding of what residents want.
"They need to understand not only what is desired, but also what is required to deliver a centre that would be a major asset to the area. In the interim period, the foremost consideration should be working around the existing Scartho facility so as to allow the continued excellent service it currently delivers to the local community.
"Given the chance these can be exciting times, not only for swimming but for the area as a whole."
As reported, Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell has already said it would be "wrong and unfair" to even consider closing Scartho Baths until a facility of the same size or bigger is available.
To join the fight to save Scartho Baths, visit www.savescarthobaths.com – and keep checking your Grimsby Telegraph for updates.