Call for debate on Shrewsbury swimming pool future
Shrewsbury's Quarry leisure centre and swimming pool is "not fit for purpose" and needs updating, the town's MP has said.
Daniel Kawczynski said recent conversations with local swimmers have highlighted the need for the town's current facilities to be improved.
It comes as he asks county swimmers to contribute to a new report about the centre.
Mr Kawczynski has asked representatives of various county swimming clubs to provide him with statistics about how many people currently use the pool and what replacement facilities would be required.
Shropshire Council has earmarked the site as a potential location for a new £40 million five-star hotel.
Private investors are being sought to fund the building of a new 200-bedroom hotel, with the Quarry Swimming and Fitness Centre named as one location under consideration.
But the local authority revealed last week it has "no money" available to build a replacement swimming pool.
The report being drawn up by Mr Kawczynski will include details on how many clubs make use of the pool from across Shropshire, what the effect of the potential pool closure would be if there was no replacement and how facilities could be improved.
It will be sent to Shropshire Council bosses for them to take into consideration.
Mr Kawczynski said whether the hotel plans come to fruition or not, it is clear from his conversations with swimmers that the facilities are in need of updating.
He said any prospective redevelopment would have to fit in with the aesthetic of the Quarry park.
"The building is completely outdated and unsuitable in a unique landmark in Shrewsbury," he said. "There are few towns that have something as beautiful and unique as the Quarry. It has to be in keeping with that.
"If it was to be sold there would be very, very extensive demand from local residents that money realised from that would go towards the building of a new pool.
"All sorts of different ideas of where the pool should be have been put forward. Some people think it should be in the town centre, other people talk about the sports village. There is no shortage of people with views."
Mr Kawczynski said his office was now working with several swimming clubs from across Shropshire.
He said bodies such as Sport England and the National Lottery could be approached to try and secure funding for a new pool.
But he added that if not enough money for a full replacement can be secured, the current centre should be updated.
"If the only outcome is for a major refurbishment of the existing swimming pool, that is what they will have to do," he said.
"We can no longer afford to sweep under the carpet the fact that the swimming pool does not meet the requirements of the many clubs that do use it.
"I'm working with the swimming clubs to put together a very thorough report on the aspirations and requirements of Shropshire swimming clubs as to what facilities they need. They agree the current pool is not fit for purpose.
"We know there are very limited funds. But there has to be a proper debate as to how we manage this."
His comments come as the leader of a campaign group to save the pool said the lack of council money for a replacement means it is vital the existing facility is not demolished.
Doctor Nick Richards, who has set up the Save Our Pool group, said a different location for the hotel should be found.
"If they have to do it, which a lot of people think they don't because there are enough hotels here, they should build it somewhere else," he said.
The group is in the process of collecting signatures for a petition as it steps up its campaign to save the centre.
Dr Richards said: "We have had tremendous support and are expecting petitions back shortly. We all say this marvellous facility which is used by people in Shropshire should be refurbished."
The idea of refurbishing or replacing the current leisure centre had been put forward by the former Shrewsbury & Atcham Borough Council before it was replaced by Shropshire Council in 2009.
But last week, Councillor Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council's cabinet member for leisure, said no money had ever been set aside by SABC for the replacement of the centre.He added that the current financial climate meant there are no public funds available to spend on such a project.
Councillor Butler said there were no current plans to close the centre, but added the facility was "coming to the end of its life".
Star comment: Shrewsbury pool loss would be a scandal