'Double standards': Shrewsbury swimming pool backers accuse Shropshire Council over £7.5 million Shirehall plans
Campaigners fighting to keep swimming facilities in Shrewsbury town centre today hit out at “double standards” from Shropshire Council over plans to refurbish Shirehall.
The authority’s headquarters could possibly undergo a £7.5 million refurbishment, with the council asking consultants to bid for a contract to review the building for the development of a plan to refurbish it.
Today, Bernard Wills, chairman of the Quarry Swimming and Fitness Forum, said the move was a blow to people wanting to keep the baths in the town centre after what they claim is a lack of commitment and investment in the facility.
Groups have been invited to submit business cases to keep the pool in the town centre, although Shropshire Council's recommendation is to move it to Sundorne.
Mr Wills said: “We the Quarry Swimming and Fitness Forum have been asking for three years for the Quarry swimming and fitness complex to be correctly surveyed to enable an informed decision to be made on either refurbishment, restoration or new build on the Quarry site.
“No in-depth survey has been made to date, yet proposals have been made by the council to close the complex and build a smaller facility at Sundorne.
“With over 300,000 visits per year to the Quarry centre and more than 68 per cent of responses to the council’s public consultation wanting the pool to stay in the town centre, why have we got double standards when it comes to what the residents of Shrewsbury want.
“Only 13 per cent of 1,100 respondents to the 2015 consultation survey wanted to move the swimming facilities to Sundorne.
“Shropshire Council cannot even find enough funds – around £50,000 – to repair the diving boards, which are the only ones in the county and yet can find millions for their own offices.
“Expenditure on the pools will be needed to keep them going for at least the three to four years minimum it will take to replace them if the council’s plans are adhered to, rather than Shrewsbury town listened to.”
The document inviting bids says significant investment is required to bring Shirehall up to modern standard.
The brief talks of the need for money-making opportunities, and confirms that it could include letting part of the building out. It lists the proposed budget for the refurbishment as £7.5m.
Clive Wright, chief executive of Shropshire Council, said: “No funding has been committed to undertake refurbishment work at the Shirehall. At this stage we are just looking at feasibility. If any investment is to be made, it will need to pay back in a reasonable timeframe.
“Last September Shropshire Council’s Cabinet agreed that any interested organisation would have up to 12 months to prepare a business case for keeping a swimming pool in Shrewsbury town centre. Any further decisions will be made by the new administration."