Kirkby pool plans drown - despite previous council pledge

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CALLS are growing for a town centre swimming pool in Kirkby - which has been promised but never delivered for decades.

Two-and-a-half years ago, Kirkby residents were promised their own pool at the grand opening of the £16m Lammas Leisure Centre in Sutton.

Former Ashfield District Council leader Coun Jason Zadrozny announced the ambitious proposals and said Kirkby had waited long enough for facilities, and the pool would help aspiring sports stars ‘achieve their dreams’.

At the time, it was claimed the new facility would cost around £5m and be part financed through link-ups with business and other funding avenues.

But now council chiefs say there are no plans for a pool.

Speaking yesterday, Coun Zadrozny said it was time the authority, currently led by the Labour group, accepted Kirkby people were missing out.

“People need to get it out of their heads that we need a Water Meadows-style project which yes, would be a very expensive investment,” he said. “I think all people are asking for is a 20m pool which would not cost anything like the same amount of money.

“We would need to consider some sort of facility which would partner with the pool. We looked at a climbing wall - the walls tend to be well used and apart from the initial set up costs, are easy to maintain.”

Coun Zadrozny said the council should have made investment in leisure facilities part of the agreement with the Morrisons supermarket chain, which is currently building a new store in Kirkby town centre.

“I think (the council) has missed a trick really. You look at the Tesco development in Mansfield - Tesco paid for the Oak Tree Leisure Centre as part of that agreement.”

The 2008 announcement was the latest pool plan to fall through since campaigners began calling for facilities in Kirkby as far back in 1935.

The project had gone as far as four or five prospective pool sites being identified in the town centre - including a plan to add a pool to the Festival Hall Leisure Centre.

Currently, Kirkby swimmers have to travel to the Lammas Leisure Centre in Sutton.

Ashfield School has its own pool but there is only one adult public swimming session on a Thursday night.

Portfolio holder for regenaration, culture and housing at Ashfield District Council Steve Carroll, said the money was not available to pay for a pool.

“In a time when we are talking about saving money, a pool cannot happen,” he said.

Selston councillor Gail Turner said a pool in Kirkby would benefit residents of the surrounding villages who could access it more easily.

“I have got issues with the Lammas and it is not easy for people living in Selston to get to,” she said.

“If people wanted a swimming pool in Kirkby it would be wonderful to provide it. We just have not got the money to spend on it. The financial situation has not changed since 2008 - I don’t think the money was there then either.”