CHARD NEWS: Mayor backs plans to save Cresta pool from closing
THE Mayor of Chard, Cllr Garry Shortland, said that he would ask Chard Town Council to give £10,000 towards the fundraising effort to save the Cresta swimming pool from closure.
Cllr Shortland was speaking at a public meeting held on Thursday (August 9) to discuss the planned Somerset County Council closure of the pool and with a view to the community taking it on.
“I have looked at the 2015 report that the county council commissioned on the pool – it didn’t seem that drastic,” he said.
“A stain on the floor, a little bit of corrosion – if the community can provide time and businesses can provide materials, then I think we can go.”
Clare Brun, a teacher at Avishayes Primary School, said that the school had recently booked ten weeks of lessons at the Flamingo Pool in Axminster – the most that it could afford on its current budget.
With this level of provision, she was not confident that all her pupils would be able to swim 25 metres by the end of year 6, as demanded under the national curriculum.
She added: “This pool is such a community facility that the children all use, and we’re certainly happy to contribute to this.”
Dr Matt Reed, chairman of governors at Manor Court Primary School, also offered his support for the fundraising.
He said: “Swimming is just great fun, and it just gives you access to so much of life.
“We will be asking parents to make contributions. Keeping our pool in Chard going continuously is going to be our prime goal.
“This pool was founded and built by volunteers. We handed it over to the state and a charity, and now we’re having to take it back.”
Support was also offered by representatives by Fiona Bowen, secretary of the Somerset Amateur Swimming Association, and Mary Pomfret from the Chard Improvement Action Group.
Cllr Amanda Broom, who represents Chard at County Hall, said that community-run pools could be successful, citing the example of Burnham-on-Sea Sports and Swim Academy, which was saved from being axed by Sedgemoor District Council in 2008.
She said: “They have not only kept it going, they are now the go-to place to go swimming in Burnham.”
John Phillips, who is putting together the business case, said that the Somerset Community Foundation would provide the community with free legal advice and that lottery funding may be available.
South Somerset District Council has pledged to provide Chard with a new swimming pool and leisure centre “within two years” as part of its ambitious plans to regenerate the town centre.
Cllr Broom said that there was an argument for retaining the current pool even if a new one was built, in light of the large amount of housing development which the town is expected to see in the coming years.
After an hour of discussion, the residents voted unanimously in favour of saving the pool and queued up to put their names down to help out with fundraising, volunteering or offering expertise.
Chard Town Council will meet to discuss a proposal to grant £10,000 towards the pool on August 20.
PHOTO - TOP: Cllr Garry Shortland.