Wellingborough Town Council to form working group to explore options for future of Swanspool Pavilion and Gardens
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A working group is to be established by Wellingborough Town Council to explore options for the use of the Swanspool Pavilion and Gardens, taking over the responsibility from North Northants Council (NNC).
Facilities like the tennis courts and bowling greens have been subject to obvious deterioration, and the town council will now monitor ways that the area can be restored.
Cllr Andrew Scarborough was supportive of Wellingborough Town Council taking over the pavilion and gardens, but said it needs a ‘detailed study.’
Speaking at a meeting last Wednesday, he said: "There has undoubtedly been considerable neglect.
“A huge amount can be done to make this a community asset."
Cllr Marion Turner-Hawes echoed the comments made by Cllr Scarborough, noting that the gardens have ‘deteriorated very badly’ and that Wellingborough Town Council is ‘learning as a council how to run physical assets’, referring back to its decision to take on stewardship of the 2023 Waendel Walk.
The working group will consist of Cllrs Elayne Francis, Marion Turner-Hawes, William Inskip, Jonathan Ekins, Philip Irwin, Jon Paul Carr and Lora Lawman, along with members of Friends of Swanspool Gardens.
Before expressing an interest in taking over governance of Swanspool Pavilion and Gardens, the working group will set out clear aims and objectives for the use of the asset.
The town council was presented with the cost of the facility’s upkeep by NNC, however most in the room did not consider them to be true running costs for the pavilion and gardens.
Cllr Graham Lawman said: “We need to properly challenge the information that has been provided.
“Swanspool House and Pavilion is wanted by locals to be taken over by Wellingborough Town Council.”
Funding to improve the asset is available through the government’s Community Ownership Funding Scheme.
The tennis courts will require monetary attention to be made available for public use, and it is acknowledged by Wellingborough Town Council that the pavilion and gardens are not being used to their full potential with regards to community use, and could be remodelled to increase value to the community.
Kevin Allen, a member of the public gallery and resident of the Swanspool area, read aloud a letter from FC Chamberlain of Elm Grove, Wellingborough, who penned an offer to Wellingborough Urban District Council in February 1919 to purchase Swanspool House and its grounds for £2,500 ‘for the benefit of the town as a pleasure resort.’
When the borough councils were amalgamated into two unitary authorities in spring 2021, ownership of Swanspool fell to North Northants Council, but it has since not been widely advertised for hire and has no regular income, except for the weekly bowling matches.
One councillor said: “Let’s be frank, North Northants Council would love to get rid of this as it regards it as a bit of a liability for them.”
The potential for Wellingborough Town Council to take on Swanspool House was also discussed at the meeting.
The Grade 2 listed building is currently under the ownership of North Northants Council.
Another councillor added: “Taking over Swanspool Pavilion and Gardens is a bit like taking the cart without the horse if we don’t take Swanspool House with it.
"I think we do need to consider Swanspool House at a later date.”