CHARD NEWS: Community meeting to save Cresta swimming pool
A PUBLIC meeting will be held in Chard this evening (Thursday, August 9, 2018) to discuss the future of the town’s swimming pool.
Somerset County Council announced last month that it was intending to close the Cresta leisure centre on Zembard Lane in September, stating that it could no longer afford to maintain it.
Amanda Broom, who represents Chard on the council, led protests against the closure outside a full council meeting in Taunton.
She has now organised a public meeting where residents can put their views across, to see if a community-led solution can be found.
Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh has also waded in, promising to put pressure on both the county and district councils to deliver a new swimming pool as part of plans to regenerate the town.
Cllr Broom was due to be meeting with Cllr David Hall – the council’s spokesman for community infrastructure – earlier this week to discuss the situation.
The council has thrown a lifeline to the community when it said that the facility could be “mothballed” until November if a community-led solution to keeping it open could be put together.
“Our intention is still to take a decision in August about the immediate future of the pool,” said a council spokesman. “Unless there is some material change in circumstances, the recommendation will be to close the pool at the end of the summer holidays.
“However, we are open to considering any realistic community-led proposals that could keep the pool open in the longer-term.”
Cllr Broom said that a public meeting would be a good means of judging whether there was sufficient support for the pool.
“We need to speak to the community to look at the level of support for the facility and to look at whether we can carry it off,” she said.
Numerous residents have written to local MP Marcus Fysh asking him to support these efforts.
In a response to one resident, which has been shared on social media, Mr Fysh said that the cost of maintaining the pool was “impractical.”
He vowed, however, that he would do what he could to bring forward a new pool for the town as soon as possible.
He wrote: “I have received a number of emails and letters on this subject and what comes across strongly is how important a part of family life a local pool can be.
“It is planned that the Chard regeneration scheme will include a new pool in the proposed leisure centre.
“I have written to the county council to ask that they do whatever possible to support and bring forward the district council’s scheme, and see if there is any scope for delaying the closure.”
South Somerset District Council has promised to deliver a new pool for Chard “within two years” under ambitious plans to regenerate the town centre.
Mr Fysh went on to admit that he does not use the current facility himself.
He added: “I tend to use the Crewkerne Aqua Centre, but I know that nearby pools will not work or have capacity for everyone.”
If Chard’s pool does close, residents will have to drive to either Crewkerne or Axminster in order to swim.
The public meeting will be held at St Mary’s Church in Chard on Thursday, August 9 from 6.30pm to 8pm. All are welcome to attend.