Scartho Baths: Campaigners vow to take fight against closure to government watchdog
CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to appeal to a local government watchdog after the council refused to take action over complaints about the Scartho Baths consultation process.
Pete Winchester, president of the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) for Grimsby and Cleethorpes, has also challenged claims made by councillors that the relevant sporting bodies have been consulted.
As reported, North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) announced in January that it would close Scartho swimming pool and build a replacement next to a refurbished Grimsby Leisure Centre, in Cromwell Road, as part of a £9 million revamp of leisure facilities.
However, on November 8, councillors gave it a stay of execution, voting to hold a three-week public consultation after receiving a petition against the closure with more than 7,000 signatures.
As reported, campaigner Alan Barratt launched an official complaint claiming the consultation questions NELC is asking are framed so that people can't suggest the refurbishment – rather than demolition – of the pool.
NELC has now confirmed that it has received a "small number of complaints" but will not amend the questions.
Mr Barratt said: "It is both disappointing and concerning as a local taxpayer that the council will not explore people's views on the refurbishment of Scartho Baths.
"This would cost just £1.6 million – and could be cheaper as the architects costs of £600,000 seem extortionate – and should be considered, particularly in these time of austerity.
"The group and the wider public do not feel that the council is acting in a open and democratic manner in framing these questions to suit their own objectives, so we have no choice but to take this matter to the Local Government Ombudsman."
The authority also states is has "worked closely with aquatics clubs, disability clubs and current operators SLM Ltd to develop a new facility that meets 21st century standards and is fully inclusive for all ages and abilities."
However, Mr Winchester has denied that the ASA was ever consulted and slammed the decision not to take action on complaints about the consultation.
He said: "I strongly challenge these wild statements, because this is not so with the swimming fraternity. Neither myself or any of the swimming clubs under the Grimsby and Cleethorpes ASA banner have been consulted on this very serious matter.
"We, the action group, feel that narrow-minded councilors are ill advised in their attitude to people who are obviously more switched on than they appear to be.
"We know what more than 7,000 people of this town want, but our chosen leaders will not listen to us."
North East Lincolnshire Council's Sue Wells, head of cultural services, disputed claims that the questions are unfair and confirmed that a complaint to the ombudsman would not change the council's stance on the matter.
The deadline to give feedback online is this Friday. Visit www.nelincs.gov.uk