Scartho Baths closure: Official complaint launched over conduct of public consultation
A CAMPAIGNER has launched an official complaint into the way a public consultation into the demolition of Scartho Baths is being conducted.
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, the move sparked anger among residents who complained that it would be smaller and less accessible than Scartho and more than 7,000 people signed a petition opposing its closure.
On November 8, councillors gave it a stay of execution, voting to hold a three-week public consultation on the area's leisure facilities.
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But leading campaigner Alan Barratt launched an official complaint this week, claiming that the questions NELC is asking in the consultation are framed in a way which doesn't allow people to say what they really want.
Mr Barratt put forward two alternatives at the last council meeting – to refurbish the existing swimming pool, costing £1.8 to £2.2-million or building a new facility on the same site, costing £7.5 to £9.6-million.
However, he claims the consultation doesn't allow residents to opt for either one of these, only the existing plans, and is upset that the consultation can only be accessed online.
He said: "I've had people phoning me up at the end of their tether as they are filling out the questionnaire.
"People want to oppose it and leave comments, but the questions are designed so that you can't do that."
Mr Barratt also claims that last week he was leaked a document – a Condition Survey Report done in 2010 – which said the building was structurally sound, despite extracts saying it was in "poor condition" being used in a council meeting last week.
He added: "The council cut and pasted bits from the report, which has misrepresented the bad state of the building.
"This document should have been in the public domain and has instead been used to misinform people so that the council can justify shutting the pool," added Mr Barratt.
However, Sue Wells, NELC's head of cultural services, disputes these claims.
She said: "We want to know how important investment in leisure is to our local community and which types of facilities matter but also need them to understand that we cannot replace everything like for like. Sadly, this is not affordable.
"Our preferred option is a phased replacement on a site that enables future development, should funding become available, and that avoids loss of services during any construction period.
"The report referred to was confidential as it formed the basis of an agreement with current operator, SLM Ltd.
"It outlined the significant work required to replace essential equipment that is at the end of its life, without which the facility could not operate.
"Essential works only would cost in the region of £2-million and this work would aim to keep the facility operational for another five to ten years but not improve it for customers.
"The actual building construction is reasonably sound, for its age, but the significant costs are linked to the replacement of essential plant and equipment, much of which has been in place since the facility was built in the 1960s."