Council ‘burying its head in the sand’ over new Kettering pool

Kettering's swimming pool. NNL-181016-154359005
Kettering's swimming pool. NNL-181016-154359005

Kettering is ‘being left behind’ by the lack of progress on the feasibility of a new swimming pool in the town.

Kettering Council agreed to look into it in December 2016 and set up a working party to investigate whether the authority could do so.

Mike Annable says a breakdown of the air circulation system in January 2018 had this effect on Kettering's pool. NNL-181016-154348005

Mike Annable says a breakdown of the air circulation system in January 2018 had this effect on Kettering's pool. NNL-181016-154348005

According to their own timetable the group should have taken evidence from schools and groups, made about 10 trips to other pools, considered the evidence and made reports and recommendations to council committees, all by March this year.

But almost two years after the December motion was passed the group has made just one visit to a pool - Kettering’s.

Labour leader Cllr Mick Scrimshaw (William Knibb) says he believes the council is leaving the issue for the planned new unitary authority to decide and not doing the leg work that should be done.

He said: “Nobody is suggesting a pool like Corby’s is built but undoubtedly we are being left behind.

Corby's international swimming pool.

Corby's international swimming pool.

“Building a new pool might be impractical, it might be expensive, but for goodness sake let’s at least look into it.”

Kettering’s pool, in London Road, was built in 1984 and since then neighbouring towns such as Corby and Wellingborough have seen vastly superior new swimming facilities open to the public.

Further afield Market Harborough District Council is investigating plans for a ‘once in a generation’ leisure centre, Peterborough City Council has announced plans for a six to eight-lane pool in a new leisure centre and Brackley’s refurbished leisure centre will include a new pool.

Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council opened a new £15m pool in Hinckley in 2016, which is bringing in a surplus revenue of £400,000 a year.

Wellingborough's Waendel Leisure Centre, which houses the town's biggest pool.

Wellingborough's Waendel Leisure Centre, which houses the town's biggest pool.

Yesterday Corby Council announced they would spend £1m on improving their pool.

Kettering’s pool was closed for two months last year when a piece of ceiling panelling fell into the water.

Mike Annable, chairman of Kettering Amateur Swimming Club (KASC), said: “Whilst Kettering’s council does nothing, leaving possible decisions to a future authority, the people of Kettering are forced to choose between high quality facilities in Corby and Wellingborough that include learner pools and, at Corby, cafe facilities plus the benefit of lower car parking charges, or an ageing pool in Kettering.

“Kettering’s pool has no learner pool, no cafe, higher parking charges, poor air circulation and single sex changing rooms.

“The people of the borough of Kettering want and deserve sport and leisure facilities that are fit for purpose and meet demand.

“Travelling outside the borough should not be considered an acceptable solution.

“The council made a commitment to investigate this matter and should not bury its head in the sand whilst waiting for the unitary authority to take over.”

Mr Annable added that the ventilation system at Kettering’s pool is old and inefficient, leaving people with sore eyes and noses.

The original motion passed by Kettering Council in December 2016 was on the same evening as another motion, put forward by independent councillor Michael Brown, to consider the use of land coined French’s Field for Kettering Town FC to build a new stadium.

Last month the Poppies announced they had signed a deal with Kettering Council to buy the land in question.

But for KASC, a new home of swimming in the town appears to be no closer.

Mr Annable added: “Kettering Council has delivered for the football club.

“Now it’s time to honour their commitment in relation to the swimming pool: the task and finish group should fulfil its terms of reference and submit its findings to full council to decide on the merits of a feasibility study.

“Until then the future of a new or improved leisure facility containing a swimming pool remains in limbo.”

A Kettering Council spokesman said: “The task and finish group is still in existence, but has not met for a while.

“Other pools which they wished to visit have not yet agreed to visits taking place.

“It is also likely that any conclusions the task and finish group arrives at will only be capable of being considered by the new unitary council in the context of swimming pool provision across north Northamptonshire.”