'Listen to public views' call over fight to save Shrewsbury's Quarry pool
Shropshire Council "cannot ignore" public support for Shrewsbury's swimming pool remaining in the town centre, campaigners said today.
Bernard Wills, chairman of the Quarry Swimming and Fitness Forum, was speaking after hundreds of people marched through Shrewsbury last weekend demanding the pool stays where it is in the Quarry.
Mr Wills and other march organisers have urged Shropshire Council to listen to the public and drop plans to move the pool out of the town centre – one of the options put forward in a public consultation.
"I think the message to the Shropshire Council review is that the feelings are coming over loud and clear and they cannot be ignored," said Mr Wills.
"Keep the pool in the town centre, spend the money on the facilities that are there, that provide the water space that is required."
Mr Wills hailed the turnout for the rally as "overwhelming".
He said: "I think they need to listen to what people were saying because the electorate, they are the people from Shrewsbury that put the councillors in their position.
"They have to listen to what the people of Shrewsbury are saying. It was quite overwhelming to have that amount of people turn up and take the time to take part in a rally on a Saturday - which is a precious day for people. The elected members now need to note the strength of feeling and decide to spend the money on the Quarry."
But Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council's cabinet member responsible for leisure services, said the authority had taken note of recent public meetings and the rally, and urged people to take part in the consultation.
He said all views would be taken into account before the council's cabinet makes a final decision. "As we've said previously, we have no preferred option," he said.
"As part of the consultation we have made sure that people have all of the facts so that they can make an informed choice when giving us their views on the future of swimming in Shrewsbury.
"Since the consultation began in June we have been listening to people's views via our online survey and various meetings around the county, including the recent rally in the town centre.
"The consultation will end next week (Friday, October 30) and we urge everyone who hasn't yet done so to make their views known. We will take everyone's comments on board before taking a report to cabinet for a decision on a preferred option."
Shropshire councillor Andrew Bannerman, who represents the ward which contains The Quarry Fitness and Leisure Centre, said the rally had shown the importance of the pool's location. He said: "I think it sends a very clear message that the most important question that the council has not asked is 'Where do you want the pool to be?'. I think in the minds of most people the place where it is is absolutely paramount."
The rally was supported by Shrewsbury's Business Improvement District, which represents 500 of the town's businesses.
Councillor Bannerman said: "It is not just about the activities, it is about the prosperity of the town centre. The prosperity of the town depends on certain major activities and one of those is the swimming pool.
"I just hope the political masters are listening and are aware this is the key issue for people. Not whether you have three pools or four, whether it is 45 metres or 50 metres - the key is where it is. I think the people have spoken."
* Take part in the consultation at http://new.shropshire.gov.uk/get-involved/swimming-provision-in-shrewsbury