Plans to replace Abbey Fields' outdoor pool branded 'a joke' ahead of public meeting

Newly announced plans to replace Abbey Fields' outdoor pool with an indoor training pool have been branded 'a joke' by a key campaigner.

Monday, 31st December 2018, 11:23 am
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 2:34 pm
Abbey Fields' outdoor pool is set to be replaced with an indoor training pool according to new plans from Warwick District Council

The plans to replace the pool were announced on Friday December 21, and are part of the council's desire to improve leisure facilities in Kenilworth.

A public meeting, organised by campaign group 'Restore Kenilworth Lido', will now be held at 3.30pm on Saturday January 5 in the Kenilworth Centre.

The aim of the meeting will be to discuss the plans and to get the council’s executive to defer its crunch vote on the plans, which is currently set to happen on on Wednesday January 9.

Restore Kenilworth Lido had pushed for the council to transform the current outdoor pool into a 25m lido.

Jane Green, the group’s leader, was highly critical of the plans.

She said: “It's a joke, isn't it? I can’t believe they’re missing this incredible opportunity, not just Kenilworth, but the whole region, to have an attraction that contributes to the character of the town.

“We don’t feel that they’ve taken notice of what the community wants.

“These plans don’t take into account the true value of open air swimming and the community aspect it brings.”

And Kenilworth town councillor Richard Dickson, who has been part of the campaign, said the plans were ‘very disappointing’.

He added: “All the focus by the district council seems to have been on the exercise benefits of the leisure facilities, whereas anyone who’s ever visited the outdoor pool knows how it attracts large numbers of tourists to the town from outside of the area because the nearest other outdoor pool is an hour’s drive away.”

The Kenilworth and Southam Labour Group has also criticised the proposals.

A spokesman for the group said: "The loss of the pool will be keenly felt by hundreds of families who visit each year for a wonderful day out swimming and relaxing together. It will be particularly missed by Kenilworth teenagers who have reported a lack of things to do and places to go in the town."

But in a consultation, around a third of respondents preferred an indoor pool, with another 27 per cent having no preference either way. 41 per cent wanted to keep the outdoor pool as it currently is.

And swimming body Swim England voiced its preference for an indoor pool, with a spokesman adding: "I appreciate that there is always an ardent lobby to build outdoor pools and these swimmers are consistent users; however the level of use does not necessarily provide a sustainable model."

A council spokesman said it would be up to individual councillors to decide if they wanted to attend the public meeting on Saturday January 5.

They added: "We are still at an early stage in this process and no decisions will be made on which proposals to take forward until the Executive meeting. There will a further public consultation on the detail of the designs for the Kenilworth centres before an application for planning permission is made."