Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Tuesday, 14 July 2009 15:10 UK

Trust given go-ahead to run pool


There are hopes the solution could be a model for the future in other areas

A business plan to save a town's swimming pool from closure has been supported by councillors.

Gwynedd Council had wanted to close Harlech pool to save money, but local people submitted a business plan to run it with a community trust.

The Friends of Harlech swimming pool want to invest in a climbing wall and cafe to attract more paying customers.

If their plans had been rejected the council would have closed the pool at the end of July.

The move to try and get the pool under community ownership is being followed with interest in other parts of Wales, which have already lost their pools.


Speaking before the decision on Tuesday Darren Coleman, a coach at Harlech pool, said the closure would mean some of his students would stop swimming.

"They've have to travel a difficult 50 mile round trip to Porthmadog," he said.

"It's gutting. They've only just started and I think they could end up pretty good.

"Not to have that, and yet to given them a taste of it - it's wrong, wrong," he added.

One of Mr Coleman's pupils, Jess, said he went swimming four times a week.

"It's one of my main hobbies. If I didn't have the pool here it would mean I'll probably just be sitting in the living room watching TV," he said.

Tough decisions

Gwynedd council leader Dyfed Edwards said there was a need to look at ways to cut £15m from the budget over the next three years.

"Can we sustain these assets and the buildings that we have across a large rural county such as Gwynedd for the future with the finance that we're provided? The answer is no.

"It's all very well having a policy and an agenda from a national government - how do we deliver it locally is the question," he said.

For the Friends of Harlech swimming pool's plan to work they needed to be given the freehold of the building.

On Tuesday the board of Gwynedd council discussed the pros and cons of the plan.

Other parts of the UK have already set up community trusts to run swimming pools.

Alan Joyce has successfully run a community owned pool in Sheffield for the past 16 years.

"The secret of the success is hands on," he said.

"You've got to be prepared to be there making sure that the facility is there for the people you're trying to encourage to come.

"It cannot work for you, you've got to work for it."

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