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Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 14:43 UK
Funds run dry for Sedgemoor Splash

Protestors marched outside the pool before the announcement was made

Sedgemoor Splash in Bridgwater is just the latest in a list of public swimming pools in the county to close.

Bridgwater will be without any public swimming pool now after the decision was made to close the existing Splash pool.

Councillors agreed the annual £700,000 cost to upkeep the pool was not money well spent.

A report on the swimming pool says a recent condition survey of the pool found it would cost around £4m to bring the pool up to modern regulations, which would then only extend its life by five to seven years.

Council leader Duncan McGingty said: "We have decided to close the pool in order to bank the savings towards the new pool. Banking the savings will bring a new pool to us soon."

The council had originally agreed to not close the pool until the new one at Chilton Trinity was built, but has run out of money.

The pressure on council funds is so great that, due to the current global recession, the council refuse to borrow money to fund the new pool. Other than £1.5m for the groundwork, no other funds have been guaranteed for the new pool.

Splash swimming pool
Bath Sports & Leisure Centre
Keynsham Leisure Centre,
South Wansdyke Sports Centre, Midsomer Norton
Culverhay Sports Centre
Strode Swimming Pool, Street
Wells Leisure Centre
Frome Leisure Centre
Shepton Mallet Lido
Taunton Pool
Wellington Sports Centre
St James Street, Taunton
Hutton Moor, Weston-super-Mare
Churchill Sports Centre
Backwell Leisure Centre
Parish Wharf Leisure Centre, Portishead

In a statement, the council said: "The stark reality of the situation [is] not 'do you want to save Splash' but 'do you want to save swimming in Bridgwater'.

"Sedgemoor District Council has no money at the current time to invest in either the Splash or a new pool. The funding on it is dependent on selling a site to realise the capital to build the new pool."

'Stitch up'

Swimmers staged a protest outside in a last minute bid to save their pool.

Regular pool user Helen Clayton said: "It's just a total stitch up really. They knew they were going to do this before they had the meeting.

"We don't need a six-lane pool because the people who can't walk can't get into one of those properly. We don't need one at Chilton because people can't get there."

Other protestors said they were concerned about the impact the closure would have on Bridgwater.

"It's an attraction to the town - I know people who come from Weston to use it so the town will lose business," said one.

Mr McGingty said he hoped the new pool will be built by 2012 but admitted that the "certainty of a new pool is not as great as it was before the global recession".

Eaten away

Many protestors are sceptical about this deadline.

"This town over the years has been eaten away at. We don't believe them. Being without a pool for three years is unacceptable when they've closed most of the school pools," said one protestor.

"They've said we will not get another pool until they have the money to build it. And that, I'm afraid, is going to be never."

The nearest pool is now in either Taunton or Burnham-on-Sea.

With the closure of Aquasplash in Minehead in October 2007 due to a leak and high running costs of approximately £300,000 per year, more pressure is now being put on Taunton's pools.

Free swimming classes for people aged either under 16 or other 60 in Taunton has steadily increased each month since the scheme was introduced.

With the closure of other pools, a spokesperson for Taunton Deane Borough Council said the pools in the district could handle the extra swimmers coming into the patch.

In the rest of the county, the pools are in a healthy position and are not coming under financial pressure.

This could change as more and more people will now have to travel further afield for their weekly swim.

What do you think of another pool closure in Somerset? Let us know.

It is appalling that Bridgewater splash is closing. my family regularly travelled from Bristol to use the pool. The same thing happened to the much loved industrial museum in bristol, closed down with lots of promises of a fantastic new building, yet three years down the line and nothing!!

Funny how a major supermarket is sniffing around the splash site already. I wonder how many of the decision makers in closing splash, have a vested interest in a certain large grocery store?? The people of Bridgewater beware you will lose a great facility and gain a shop, from past experience only shareholders will do well, while they will hope that the common folk will forget that a replacement pool was promised.
Truid Kettle

I am very dismayed that a popular local and tourist attraction such as the Splash has been earmarked for closure. I feel this is very shortsighted as I (and family)often come to spend the day (and my money) at Bridgwater. Having a swimming pool in a community is a necessity and making it a fun exciting place as an indoor tourist place with flumes, river etc is an incentive for people to visit the town. Of course unless there is careful energy planning these pools cost a lot of money. But so easily with more cafes/kiosks/shops within it could find a way to pay. Now there will be nowhere for young families to go to play inside - look at the fiasco with WsM's Tropicana. The Royal family cost us huge sums but also brings much more to the country in Tourism money. These things cannot easily be looked at individually. Save the Splash!
Linda Ruffles, Weston-super-Mare

Splash is a unique pool being in the centre of town and giving children the opportunity to learn to swim and have fun at the same time. Its loss is going to leave Bridgwater a poorer place even IF a new pool is built.

Surely the cheaper option of bringing Splash up to standard is better than relying on the sale of the site to be developed for something that Bridgwater does not want or need.
Ian Tucker, Bridgwater

I have been using the pool since i started aqua aroebics when i was pregnant my daughter is now 2 and i have been going every week. I am so upset how am i meant to tell my 2 yr old she can't go to her fav pool anymore the whirl pool and that she can walk in and out the water.

we love burnham pool it is good for lane swimming but it is far too cold for babys and toddlers my little un started shivering withen mins of going in there. splash was perfect and has left me close to tears.I can not afford to travel to taunton every week and my little girl will be missing out on vital devolpment by this as far as im concerened. Being a ex rnli crew member i find learning to swim and getting to know water is important.

Nichola Triggol, Burnham on Sea

I worked for the Sedgemoor District Council Leisure Department for 7 years. At the bottom of this issue is the failure of the Authority to ensure that the facility was built to the necessary standard in the first place and, subsequently, to ensure that it was maintained correctly to avoid deterioration to the current condition. I would dispute the £4m figure being placed on the works required. I believe that it could be kept open, albeit with possibly reduced facilities (no flumes/waves) and reduced opening hours. I also believe that the authority has been planning this closure for over 2 years as the recent closure of the catering operation, an essential feature of the birthday parties etc, illustrates.

Steve, Lyme Regis

Bridgwater town is in its death throws. This will just put the lid on the coffin!! Lets hope the current crop of councillors lose their jobs at the next election.

Gary, Bridgwater

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