Swimming baths to remain closed over Covid-19 safety issues despite petition

A town's swimming pool will remain closed while social distancing is required despite residents' calls for it to be reopened.

Whitchurch Swimming Centre. Pic: Google Street View
Whitchurch Swimming Centre. Pic: Google Street View

Whitchurch Swimming Centre has been closed since the onset of the pandemic last March, with Shropshire Council unable to open it between lockdowns due to difficulties adapting the building to comply with Covid-19 safety guidelines.

A petition calling for it to be adapted reached more than 400 signatures, so councillors debated the issue at yesterday's scrutiny committee meeting.

But officials said there was nothing that could be done to make the building Covid-safe following extensive investigations.

Campaigner Nick Saxby launched the petition. A statement from him was read out, and it said: "We are now nine months later (since it closed) and still no progress has been made. We haven't heard one thing about the reasons."

He previously said: “The issue has never been a disagreement that the swimming centre is not compliant with social distancing, but rather the apparent lack of plan for the council to adapt it to be so. The new lockdown measures and heightened crisis with Covid mean that the swimming centre won’t be opening any time soon, and that is completely right to safeguard public health.

“However, the pool could have been an important resource for people’s wellbeing throughout the pandemic, outside of the lockdown measures.

“I think people need to see that their council has been doing everything they can to provide this important service for Whitchurch’s wellbeing.”

Councillor Lezley Picton, portfolio holder for leisure, said in a statement that several visits had been done to assess how the venue could be made safe, but the walkways, changing rooms and reception area do not afford the required space.

She said: "We completely understand the frustrations of the local community. We understand the impacts to the users of the facility with regards to their physical and mental health."

Whitchurch councillor Peggy Mullock said: "We have just seen the highest numbers of deaths and I would not want to do anything to put my town at risk." She added that she has grandchildren who are looking forward to using the pool and she would be "following the issue carefully" over the coming weeks and months.

Councillor Picton also confirmed that investigations have taken place into a leak in the roof, and that a considerable sum of money has been set aside to repair it, further outlining the council's aim to get the facility back open when circumstances allow.

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