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Have your say on future of pools and sport
The fate of the district’s swimming pools is being placed in the public’s hands as Bradford Council asks residents what they want.
A district-wide consultation is taking place to help the council guide its strategy for the future of leisure provision.
The survey follows a public outcry last year after an initial study by consultants favoured closing four pools in the district. A further “supply-and-demand” investigation identified a need for a 25-metre city centre pool as well as new pools in South Bradford, Bingley and Queensbury.
Questions being asked include: l whether a pool should be included in ambitious plans for a sports village at Odsal in place of Richard Dunn; l if more cash should be ploughed into refurbishing existing leisure centres; l whether there is demand for a new city centre pool.
Council leisure chiefs agreed to consult Bradfordians on the proposals, which include the showpiece £25 million city-centre pool with ice rink, three new pools and the creation of Odsal Sports Village.
People are also being asked if they would like to see new facilities linked to other public services such as schools, colleges, libraries and health centres, and what are their opinions of the quality of existing sport and leisure facilities.
The questionnaire highlights that these are “suggestions” at this stage and that no decisions have been made. It also points out that each time someone uses an authority-run leisure centre the Council contributes an average of £1.54 to the cost.
The Council’s department of culture, tourism and sport is holding the consultation until the end of March before it creates a sports facilities strategy for the district.
Councillor Anne Hawkesworth, the Council’s executive member for environment and culture, said: “We want to make sure that everyone in the district has the opportunity to be more active and participate in sports and activities.
“Before we develop a sports facilities strategy we want to know what the people who will use them would like to see included.
“We also have to take into account rising energy and maintenance costs to run facilities, meet rising expectations for high-quality, value-for-money services, and find funds to build new centres and pools.”
The Council has already signed up to a Government-backed scheme to offer free swimming to the over 60s and under 16s, which begins in April. More than £600,000 in central funding will still leave the Council with an expected shortfall of £110,000 to operate the two-year scheme.
But as the Council has agreed to offer both schemes it is now eligible for extra funding for swimming pool improvements and has applied to a national pot of £50 million for help in building the 25-metre city centre pool.
Building a new showpiece pool in the heart of the city is central to the Telegraph & Argus Save Our Swimming campaign, which has now been supported by more than 2,600 people. It also calls for the Council to safeguard the future of community swimming pools.
e-mail: jo.winrow @telegraphandargus.co.uk