'Scartho pool is the biggest and best for miles', says MP Austin Mitchell
AUSTIN Mitchell has stepped into the controversy surrounding the future of Scartho Baths – by asking the council to reconsider its closure.
The veteran Grimsby MP said the issue "should be subject to much wider consultation and discussion" and should "only be taken if no alternative funding is available".
As reported, the pool will close in about two years' time and a new pool built as part of a £7.5-million project at Grimsby Leisure Centre, featuring a 25-metre pool and a new gym.
North East Lincolnshire Council has said that the site of the baths "may well be sold for housing" but that no decision has been made.
The plan has been met with opposition from residents, especially those local to Scartho, who feel there has been little public consultation.
Now, Mr Mitchell has added his views.
"It would be wrong and unfair to even consider closing it until a similar or better facility of the same size or bigger is available and running," he said.
"We can't and shouldn't leave a generation of swimmers without the facilities and the pool they need to swim, train and develop their potential.
"Since the news broke that the council had taken a little-noticed decision last December to close the swimming pool, I've been bombarded with expressions of concern from swimmers, young and old.
"The pool may be 50 years old but it's still well-maintained, well-used and the biggest and best for miles around.
"I don't want to see young swimmers and divers, anxious to develop their skills to championship levels, being forced to go to Sheffield – which will be the nearest available large pool if we close ours.
"Nor do we want a generation of schools and young people left without the swimming facilities they now enjoy."
Mr Mitchell's comments come after a recent public meeting, where Councillor Mick Burnett, the portfolio holder for tourism and culture, tried to reassure disappointed residents.
As reported, the plans to revamp leisure facilities in the area were revealed three years after they were first mooted.
A new stand-alone centre would be built in front of the existing Grimsby Leisure Centre, in Cromwell Road, allowing customers to continue using the current facilities without being affected by the work. Although there will be a new 25-metre pool, the facility will not have a steam room, sauna or diving board facilities.
Mr Mitchell added: "I sympathise with the council because a 26 per cent cut in Government support up to 2015 puts them in a really tough financial situation.
"However, it's still important to maintain sporting and health activity and some alternative funding is available through Olympic legacy money."
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