Councillors fight 'appalling' move to keep Fleetwood pools closed

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Image source, SPL
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Labour councillors said keeping pools closed was "damaging"

A decision to keep swimming pools and gyms closed in part of Lancashire has been described as "appalling" and "damaging" by opposition councillors.

Under the move by Wyre Council, leisure facilities in Fleetwood and Poulton will remain shut as England's second Covid-19 lockdown ends.

The Tory-run council said the decision was based on economic reasons as the centres were "seriously struggling".

Labour councillors "called in" the decision, meaning it will be reviewed.

Swim England said 221 council-run pools will remain closed despite coronavirus restrictions for the sector being lifted.

Wyre Council said it would regularly review the decision to keep Fleetwood and Poulton centres closed.

Image source, Google
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Poulton and Fleetwood pools and leisure centres have been closed since March

However, the authority approved funding to help centres in Thornton and Garstang reopen, pointing out they were on a sounder financial footing.

Labour councillor Lorraine Beavers said residents were "quite rightly appalled".

She continued: "It is damaging for the physical and mental wellbeing of residents and harmful to the kids wanting to learn to swim. Residents need the pools and the gyms open now."

Image source, LDRS
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Councillors Lorraine Beavers and Cheryl Raynor are among those opposing the closures

Fleetwood councillor Cheryl Raynor said the cabinet had shown a "lack of imagination and understanding" and said it was "an ill-informed decision based on some really dodgy usage figures".

But council leader David Henderson said Thornton and Garstang had "retained the highest proportion of members" and stood "the best chance of bringing in money to support the other centres".

Athletes campaign

Local swimmers and elite athletes who began their careers at Fleetwood have backed calls to open pools in the area.

Elliot Myers, head coach at Fleetwood Swimming Club which has more than 200 children and young members aged from seven to 18, said: "These kids were cooped up in the first lockdown and this was their release."

He added: "Three sides of the town is surrounded by water but we can't use our pool."

Mr Myers said he had received messages of support from former club members including cross channel swimmer Dr Julie Bradshaw MBE and ex-Team GB women's captain Maria Scott who swam in the 1982 World Championships.

Barbara Holmes, 61, an age group world champion triathlete, who used to swim at the pool said the council needs to think again.

"The council has not been willing to consider the huge benefits to the whole community of all ages - in mental and physical well being, health and fitness, of re-opening it."

The council's overview and scrutiny committee will review the decision on 15 December.

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