Petition for new Kettering swimming pool gathers pace

Hundreds of people have added their name to it

By Sam Wildman
Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 7:00 am

Hundreds of people have backed a campaign for a new Kettering swimming pool to replace the town's 'woefully inadequate' facility.

The current London Road pool was opened in 1984 and is just shy of reaching the average pool lifespan of 38 years.

It has needed costly investment in recent years - having been forced to close in 2017 after ceiling panelling fell into the water - and now has a roof that leaks in multiple places.

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Kettering Swimming Pool

But despite councillors pledging to look into building a new one, and a warning that it needed to be high on the agenda, hopes of a new pool for the town have gone absolutely nowhere.

Mike Annable, chairman of Kettering Amateur Swimming Club (KASC), started a 'New Pool For Kettering' petition - and as of last night (Tuesday) almost 500 people had signed it.

The petition calls on North Northamptonshire Council to provide a learner pool in Kettering and undertake a feasibility study into the long-term future of Kettering Swimming Pool and local water provision.

Mr Annable, who previously warned the town will be left the poor relation, said parents are having to take their children to learn to swim elsewhere because of Kettering's facilities.

He said: "A parent in Kettering that wants their child to learn to swim has a stark choice.

"They can learn in deep water at Kettering Swimming Pool or they can travel to Corby, Wellingborough or Market Harborough where they can access a teaching and learning pool."

He added that KASC had to hold their recent club championships at Corby's international pool because of Kettering's limited spectator space.

Since the turn of the century shiny new pools have been built in other north Northamptonshire towns, but desperate calls for a new pool in Kettering have come to nothing.

That's despite a 2018 assessment which found that the water space for swimming in Kettering was just 4.6 sq m per 1,000 people.

This was far less than its neighbouring areas - 15.7 sq m per 1,000 people in Corby, 14 sq m per 1,000 people in East Northants and 12.7 sq m per 1,000 people in Wellingborough (2016).

The former Kettering Borough Council (KBC) agreed to look into the possibility of a new pool in 2016, but carried out half-hearted research and then disbanded a research group in 2019, ruling out committing to building one and leaving any move to the new North Northamptonshire Council (NNC).

Last year a strategy published by KBC said new improved swimming facilities and a larger pool needed to be high on the agenda for NNC.

But, despite investing in the London Road pool, the new authority is still no closer to committing to looking into replacing the ageing facility.

A spokesman for North Northamptonshire Council said: “We have recently invested in both public facing areas and behind the scenes to improve the quality of Kettering pool and facilities, with new style changing rooms, accessible facilities, pool repairs, ventilation improvements and new showers along with a new heating and filtration system to improve water quality. A capital works programme is under way for the roof repairs.

“Consideration on the future provision of all leisure facilities in north Northamptonshire will be undertaken with planning colleagues as a part of the plan-making process.

“This will take into account the policies published last year by Kettering Borough Council on the sport facility strategy.”

At a meeting last month Kettering Town Council agreed to try and persuade NNC to invest in work on the pool, after a Conservative amendment to a similar Labour group motion.

Cllr Clark Mitchell (Lab) said the town's pool was in "dire need of renovation".

He said any decision on a new pool shouldn't come down to if it can make a profit - and said swimming pool provision was a vital service just like bin collections and highways works.

He said: "Our job as public servants is to provide the taxpayer with the services they deserve and need.

"Kettering is the largest urban settlement in north Northamptonshire and arguably the principle town.

"With the developments in east Kettering we are ever-growing but our services are staying stagnant."

Cllr Bev Wright (Lab) admitted finding a site for a new pool would not be straightforward and said opportunities to build one - such as at Cransley Park, Hanwood Park or the old Rockingham Road football stadium - had been missed.

She added: "No doubt some will say there is no magic money tree.

"True, but it is a matter of priorities and [they] seem to have found one for the Chester [House] Estate, so it can be done."

To view the petition for a new pool for Kettering, visit https://www.change.org/p/new-pool-for-kettering.