No new swimming pool for Kettering

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Any hopes of a new swimming pool in Kettering look set to be over.

Kettering Council agreed to look into the feasibility of a state-of-the-art pool in December 2016 and set up a research group.

The London Road pool.

The London Road pool.

The group’s work was called into question last year after they visited just one pool - Kettering’s - when they should have visited 10 and made reports.

But ahead of a meeting next week the council is recommending that the research group is disbanded, effectively ending the hopes of a new pool, and that £140,000 is pumped into the current pool in London Road instead.

Opposition leader Cllr Mick Scrimshaw struggled to hide his outrage at the council’s ‘lack of imagination’.

He said: “I am furious because this working group was set up well over a year ago and was simply designed to look into the idea of a pool and whether it was feasible.

“There are towns similar to Kettering that have state-of-the-art pools and we could have explored whether we could have had one as well.

“But that task and finish group met just once when it visited Kettering’s swimming pool.

“It’s an absolute disgrace and it’s clear the administration had no intention of any new swimming facility.”

Kettering’s pool 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.

In 2017 the Kettering pool was forced to close for two months after a piece of ceiling panelling fell into the water.

The council will now invest £40,000 in the facility’s plant room to protect the life of the pool. This may result in a short-term closure.

Officers are also recommending that councillors approve a £100,000 investment in the changing facilities.

Mike Annable, chairman of Kettering Amateur Swimming Club (KASC), welcomed the investment but said he was disappointed by the plan to disband the research group.

He said: “Since July 2017, this group has carried out a paper exercise that barely scratches the surface of its own terms of reference.

“If the group was to complete the work as per those terms it would be in a position to hand over to a future unitary authority a detailed dossier that may recommend investment in new leisure facilities within the borough.

“The fact remains that Kettering has less water space than that required for its current population, and that by 2031 it is estimated that the borough would require an additional six-lane 25m swimming pool.”

More than 50 per cent of the money KASC spent on pool hire last year was paid to pools outside of the borough.

They have to hire the pools in Wellingborough and Corby to hold championships with 70 of their swimmers taking a round trip of more than 30 miles just to train.

Mr Annable said the quality of the town’s facility is affecting their recruitment.

He said: “KASC is one of the smallest clubs in the county and our member recruitment is impacted by both the requirement to travel to other pools and the quality of the facility we consider to be our home.”

Documents set to be discussed by councillors at a meeting on February 6 say that the planned change to a unitary authority in 2020 means major changes to the town’s swimming facilities are out of their control.

A council paper said: “The timescale for this change, together with the potential for any new spending to require approval by the shadow authority, effectively means it will not be in this authority’s gift to make major changes to swimming pool provision in the borough.”