MEMBERS of a Wharfedale

swimming club fear that it will fold before it reaches its 100th anniversary after a £1.6 million Lottery bid to improve swimming facilities failed.

Ian Riley, committee member of Otley Swimming Club, claims the failed bid to improve sports facilities in the town, most notably at their base at the Thomas Chippendale Pool, could be the final nail in the coffin for the club.

As reported last week, community leaders in Otley are furious that their bid was rejected by the Sport England Lottery Fund in a scathing report which highlighted a 'lack' of support from the community, poor value for money and weak sports development plans amongst others.

An appeal against the decision is planned.

But Mr Riley said: "The future is bleak for our 200 members. We started in 1903 with people

swimming in the River Wharfe. The way things are going, the only place for Otley people to swim will be in the river again.

"Without the pool there will be no club and we won't be reaching our 100th anniversary. The city council has neglected the pool to an extent that it is almost


Problems at the pool include;

l A lack of security in changing rooms which are 'an absolute disgrace'.

l Suspended ceiling tiles over the pool are precariously hanging down.

l Cracked tiles around the pool.

l Dated and unreliable boilers and problems with the fabric of the building itself.

Mr Riley added: "The condition of the pool has undoubtedly cost us members already. I dread to think about the future - what's going to happen to all the children who come here with their school during the week? They will have nowhere to go.

"If the appeal is unsuccessful, the city council will have to allocate the £300,000 they set aside for match funding for the project and use it for improvements to the pool instead. If some form of investment doesn't come forward, the pool will close shortly."

A petition launched by Town Mayor Councillor John Eveleigh against the Lottery's decision is still circulating. Copies are still available from Otley Civic Centre and reception at the Wharfedale Observer.

n Meanwhile, the failed bid will be discussed amongst the town's sporting organisations at a special Sports Forum meeting next Thursday at the Civic Centre (7.30pm).

The meeting had been originally set up by Otley Sports Council chairman John Morgan to discuss general sporting issues, but the failed bid has now been added to the agenda.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.