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Trust plans to help save Bingley Pool
A businessman is researching how a community could take over a swimming pool threatened with closure.
David Crabtree wants to set-up a charitable trust to run Bingley Pool. It is one of four under threat as Bradford Council looks to build four new pools in a bid to improve its leisure offerings across the district.
The idea was also mooted by campaigners gathering petition signatures to save the pool earlier this month. Mr Crabtree (below) has now been invited to a meeting tomorrow to discuss the plans as objectors look to establish a formal committee to stop the closure.
Mr Crabtree said the trust could pay a peppercorn rent to the Council.
“The Council running a pool is always going to be more expensive than committed locals with a good business plan. The Council hands over the pool to the charitable trust, in a repaired condition or at least gives a start-up grant to the trust to repair the roof.
“We get volunteers and pay local tradesmen to undertake maintenance works, we make the pool a vibrant, profitable centre for the town,” he said.
Mr Crabtree, who runs two care homes in Bradford, said Bingley Pool was an important part of the town’s history.
“It has a much larger significance in terms of the community depth of feeling. As children, we all learned to swim there.” he said.
“All the schools throughout the country used to go there for Bingley talent contest, too. It was the original X Factor and schools through the district were invited.”
He believes the building could be used out of hours to host events, with the pool boarded over with a temporary floor, to increase revenue.
“It’s an integral part of the community and worth saving,” he said.
Mr Crabtree has contacted Councillor Andrew Thornton, the executive member for environment, sport and sustainability, about his idea and to obtain figures.
“His response was, ‘it costs a lot to run a pool’,” Mr Crabtree said. “Well, everything does – that’s not a stumbling block. We all know what the costs of running a business are. If it’s a trust, or not-for-profit, we can look at applying for lottery grants and other things.”
Mr Crabtree has also spoken to Eldwick resident and solicitor Chris Allen about his idea.
“I think there’s enough of us with the business and legal acumen, it just needs pulling together. I’d like to put a plea out to all small businesses in the area to get together and support it,” Mr Crabtree said.
As part of the process, any trust would need to convince the Council that the site was a community asset.
Mr Allen said: “I don’t see that’s a problem in itself. It’s really well-used by schoolchildren and their families.”
He said one problem could be raising enough money to take over the site if the Council had large commercial plans for it, such as selling it to a developer.
Coun Thornton said a business plan was being drawn-up to consider its pool building and closure plans.
“The business plan development will involve wide-ranging consultation including consideration of proposals from interested parties who feel they have a credible business plan in support of the Council’s strategy to provide high-quality, accessible facilities for the whole community of Bradford district,” he said.
Mr Crabtree said a similar scheme to save Bramley Baths in Leeds had been a success and has undertaken to assist in the costs of establishing a charitable trust.
Mr Allen added: “It will need genuine ground support from the people of Bingley and need people to step forward and be trustees. It’s achievable, but it’s not an easy road.”
Anyone who wants to help Mr Crabtree, can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campaigner is calling for unity
A campaigner working to save Bingley Pool from closure hopes to set up an official committee at a meeting tomorrow.
When plans to close the pool were announced on September 11, Jag Picknett raised a petition against the proposal which received 3,675 signatures in four days.
Dr Picknett has now been told that the petition must be handed to Bradford Council on October 22, when there will be an opportunity to make a five-minute speech to councillors.
“We need to be united in this. Everyone is busy, but this work cannot be left to one person,” she said, adding that it was important to keep the momentum going.
She has suggested weekly meetings to discuss the progress of the campaign.
The doctor has been in contact with the Amateur Swimming Association, Sport England, Public Health and the Friends of Bramley Baths which saved a swimming pool in Leeds from closure.
“The plan is to work together to come up with a strategy to take this forward,” she said.
E-mail email@example.com to attend tomorrow’s meeting at The Climbing Barn, Crossflatts, from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.