Campaigners in Kenilworth are "immensely disappointed" that the town's outdoor swimming pool will not reopen this summer

Following Warwick District Council's announcement last week The Kenilworth Lido Campaign group is demanding a "proper study" into the overall feasibility of a modern lido in the town

Monday, 26th July 2021, 12:17 pm
The outdoor swimming pool at Abbey Fields in Kenilworth may never be used by swimmers again before it is replaced by a second indoor pool.

Campaigners in Kenilworth have expressed their disappointment that the town's public outdoor swimming pool will not re-open this summer and are calling for a "proper study" into a modern lido being built in its place.

Last week, Warwick District Council announced it would not be re-opening the outdoor pool at Abbey Fields in what is likely to be the final season before the facility is closed for good and replaced with a second indoor pool under the authority's plans.

The Kenilworth Lido Campaign group has said: "The Lido Campaign Group is immensely disappointed that swimmers in Warwick District and further afield will be denied the opportunity to use the outdoor pool in Abbey Fields this summer while the long-term future of the town's leisure facilities remain undecided."

As art of the announcement to keep the outdoor pool closed, the council’s portfolio holder for culture, tourism and leisure, Councillor Liam Bartlett, said: “ We have been assessing the viability of reopening the pool, for a final season against a number of criteria - the latest national position regarding Covid restrictions, the cost of the extensive repairs required to bring the facility to a safe operating condition, the additional operating costs against the predicted footfall for the remainder of the season and most importantly fulfilling the added need and availability of water space and trained staff for swimming lessons during what are still very difficult times for our leisure centres.

“In contrast to lidos found in other areas of the country, the layout and the condition of the Kenilworth outdoor pool built in the 1980s, does not lend itself to the type of swimming session the majority of users are currently seeking."

But the group has pointed out that during the summer months the outdoor pool has been very popular with swimmers over the years with people often having to be turned away when numbers reach capacity.

Campaign chairwoman Ruth Colgan said: "This year we have already seen two near-record breaking heat waves, an urgent public health need for people to take more exercise in safe outdoor spaces and a growing national demand for the lido experience which is so much more than just swimming.

"The outdoor pool is located within a site that already has all the infrastructure needed to offer safe swimming.

"So why is a much needed municipal resource lying empty and neglected this summer?

"Cllr Bartlett cites repair and operating costs as a reason not to re-open the outdoor pool this year.

"The public should be told why WDC failed to maintain the outdoor pool during the closed period and why recommissioning work did not commence when the Government announced outdoor pools could reopen in March?

"Surely, just taking the simple step of using the pool cover during the winter months might have mitigated some of the problems that have now come to light?

Furthermore, the campaign group would be very interested to know why WDC applied for Government/ Sport England funding from the National Leisure Facilities Recovery Fund to help with the costs of getting its leisure facilities up and running, but omitted to include the outdoor pool?

This rather suggests to us that the decision to not reopen the pool was taken some time ago and that the review was superfluous.

"We would agree with Cllr. Bartlett's statement that the kidney shape and size of the current outdoor pool does not lend itself to the type of swimming session the majority of users of such a facility are seeking.

"Furthermore, since WDC's two indoor pool model was first proposed in 2018, the provision of swimming pools and swimming lessons in the area has increased significantly.

"There are around 16 indoor pools offering lessons within a six-mile radius of Abbey Fields.

"In contrast the nearest lido is over 20 miles away. And of course, Covid has changed the way in which users wish to take exercise.

"Surely then now is the time to review what sort of facilities would best lend itself to the type of swimming session the majority of users are currently seeking and the Campaign Group calls upon WDC to conduct a proper study looking at the overall feasibility of a modern lido in Kenilworth."

Cllr Kate Dickson, the leader of the Kenilworth Liberal Democrats Town Council Group, said: "'This is obviously hugely disappointing news on a number of levels.

"'It's disappointing for residents of all ages, especially as the school holidays have just begun.

"It's also very disappointing for visitors to the town and the local businesses who would have benefitted from them also spending time in our many cafes, bars, restaurants and shops when they visited Kenilworth.

"And to make matters even worse, there is no sense of regret expressed in the district council's statement."