Campaigners hail large turnout for Shrewsbury Quarry pool rally
The people of Shrewsbury have shown the strength of feeling for keeping a swimming pool in the town centre, campaigners have said.
More than 500 people turned out for a rally in support of a campaign to protect the Quarry Swimming and Fitness Centre.
Organisers said the large turnout had sent a message to officials at Shropshire Council, who are considering several options for the future of swimming facilities in the county town.
Those taking part in the rally on Saturday included members of sports clubs including Shrewsbury Canoe Club and Shrewsbury Masters Swimming Club and regular users of the Quarry pool.
Members of Shrewsbury's business community were also involved. Officials behind Shrewsbury BID said the pool was of benefit to town centre traders and also enhanced the social atmosphere.
People of all ages took part, saying how much it meant to have a swimming pool based in the town centre. They said a new pool would not allow the same access for clubs with specialist equipment, and said the existing pool was an "asset" to the town.
Councillor Miles Kenny, mayor of Shrewsbury, gave a speech outside the pool building.
"To move it out of town would be preposterous," he said. "We need to carry on fighting. We will keep the pool here."
Alison McKittrick, spokeswoman for the Quarry Forum which organised the rally, said: "We are here today to raise awareness we want to keep the pool in the centre of town.
"To keep the pool where it is makes sense in terms of access and economic benefits to the town.
"The turnout was fantastic and the support shows that there is definitely a strong local feeling for keeping the pool in the town centre.
"We believe that public support shows we can really make a difference.
"I want to thank the mayor for coming and thank the town council for the support they have given us."
Hannah Fraser, Shropshire councillor for Shrewsbury's Abbey ward, said a survey found that more than 70 per cent of people want the pool to the stay in the town centre.
"The current location is a big thing. The site is beautiful and it is a brilliant leisure facility," she said.
"I think the council has underestimated the number of people who would use it if it remains in the town centre and overestimated the number of people if it goes out of town.
"It is fantastic to see so many people out here."
She urged people to write to their local councillors and MP to tell them why they feel the pool should stay where it is. Shropshire Council is currently considering seven options for the future of the swimming pool.
Three involve maintaining a pool at the Quarry site by refurbishing the existing facilities, carrying out a more wide-ranging renovation, or building a new centre on the existing site.
Four other options under consideration would involve the Quarry site being closed and a new pool being built on a site on the outskirts of the town.
The cost of each of the options would run into millions of pounds, according to Shropshire Council.
Consultation was extended last month after it was discovered miscalculations had been made by leisure experts in the original reports.
A decision by the authority's cabinet is not expected to be made until the new year.
Two baths were first created on the site in the 1860s.
The present building dates back to the late 1960s and was modernised when two pools were added as well as room for spectators in 1969.
Councillor Beverley Baker, of Shrewsbury Town Council, said: "The pool has to stay in the town. It is the best option for everybody.
"We need to make sure we have the best facilities for the community.
"The support from people has been brilliant. There is a brilliant mix of people here today, including people who use it all the time and occasional users as well as non-users."
Richard Green, a member of Shrewsbury Canoe Club, said: "Every autumn and spring our club trains new members on safety techniques such as rolling. We use the Quarry pool.
"A new pool would not have the capacity to allow our club to practice indoors."
Sue Davies, member of Shrewsbury Masters Swimming Club, said: "It is a facility for all ages and abilities. It should be in the Quarry.
"We have got four fantastic pools. It is a proper wet weather outing when you come with your family. Access will not be the same if it moves. It is an asset to the town and the town needs it."
Caroline Clack, 51, of Monkmoor, said: "I am here today to help keep the pool where it is. I used to swim for Shrewsbury and remember when the pool was built."
Kieran Davies, 16, of Meole Brace, said: "
It is easy to get to and is in a great location. After me and my friends go swimming we will use shops and places to eat in the town centre. The town centre would suffer if it moves."
Kirsten Henly, manager of Shrewsbury BID, said: "The rally gave supporters and the public an important opportunity to voice their feeling and shows the widespread concern about the future location of the Quarry Swimming Pool.
"The current consultation by Shropshire Council on future swimming provision needs to examine what is best for the whole community. Whether the existing pool is upgraded or a new one built, we feel it must remain in the town centre because of its social and economic benefits.
"A thriving town needs communal, social and leisure facilities and modern swimming and leisure provision should form part of that offer."
Shropshire Council is currently running a consultation about the future of the pool, which will conclude on October 30.
There are seven options under consideration including spending £2.3 million refurbishing the existing Quarry pool, £12.8 million carrying out a wider renovation or £10.9 million building a new pool on the current site.
Other options include building a £10.6 million pool at Clayton Way, Oxon, a £10.9 million centre off Ellesmere Road opposite Battlefield Enterprise Park or a £9 million pool at Shrewsbury Sports Village. A seventh option would see the pool built at Shrewsbury College on London Road.
The final decision will be taken by Shropshire Council's cabinet, with a ruling verdict not expected before February 2016.
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