Carnforth swimming pool gets lifeline

Carnforth swimming pool.
Carnforth swimming pool.
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Carnforth community swimming pool has taken a step closer to survival.

Lancaster City Council has agreed to continue to run the indoor pool until December 31 to allow more time for a community takeover bid.

Carnforth Town Council and other town residents are trying to put together a business plan to save the swimming centre and have asked for extra time to set up a ‘community interest company’.

The Kellet Road facility near Carnforth High School was due to close on September 30.

The city council was due to hand the pool back to owners Lancashire County Council on that date as a cost-cutting measure.

The county council had previously said they had no plans to continue running the pool.

Both councils had originally been in talks with Carnforth High School hoping to find a way for the school to take over the pool.

But a Lancaster City Council report this week said Carnforth High “has not been able to source an alternative contractor or revised affordable scheme and therefore has decided not to pursue taking on Carnforth pool”.

The city council voted to keep running the pool until the end of the year at a meeting at Morecambe Town Hall on Wednesday night.

Coun Darren Clifford, Labour Cabinet member for sport and leisure, said: “The county council has been clear that it does not intend to keep running the pool once it’s handed back to them and that leaves us in a quandary because we do not want it to close.

“The best solution for all would be for the community to take it over, but they need more time to put together their business plan.

“This additional funding will allow the pool to continue to operate as it is and give the community the time they need to get everything in place ready to run the pool from January 1.”

Coun Phillippa Williamson, a Conservative councillor who backed the motion, said: “Carnforth Pool is at the very heart of the community and I was extremely pleased to back this motion to provide a further three months’ funding.

“It is important that we provide as much time to the community that we can to facilitate a seamless transfer so the facility remains open for the benefit of all the communities it serves.”

Lancaster City Council made the decision in 2016 to stop running Carnforth, Heysham and Hornby swimming pools as part of their 2016/17 budget.

The Labour-run council said this would save them £176,700 a year.

The city council still plans to stop running Heysham Swimming Pool on September 30. But Heysham High School is putting together a plan to take over the Osborne Road centre and keep it open.

They want to turn it into a community sports centre by joining the pool reception to the school’s fitness suite, subject to a grant bid to Sport England and a planning application.

Hornby pool has already closed.

A group called the Lune Valley Community Society (LVCS) is bidding to take the pool from council ownership into a community asset with an option to own it themselves in future.

Meanwhile David Morris, Conservative MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, said last week that he had met with Geoff Driver, fellow Tory and Lancashire County Council leader, about the future of Carnforth pool.

Mr Morris said Mr Driver “indicated his intention to reverse the decision by the county council under Labour to close the pools and his officers are currently investigating the county council reopening the pool”.

Gary Pearse, head of the estates service for Lancashire County Council, said last month: “We’re still looking into options to try to keep the pool open. This includes discussions involving Lancaster City Council, Sport England and the school.”

The Tories took control of Lancashire County Council from Labour in May’s elections.