|Hindley Pool: the Future
Wigan Council’s ruling cabinet this week accepted the recommendation of the scrutiny committee to close Hindley Pool unless an external group comes forward to take on the running of the site.
Council leader Lord Smith said: “None of us came into politics to close or cut services but faced with massive cuts to our budgets, it is with great reluctance that we must take a decision on the site.”
Members had already deferred its closure for six months to give groups time to come forward and present a business plan. Officers and senior councillors have been working closely with one group in particular. It is hoped that a plan, similar to the successful takeover of Tyldesley pool by an independent group, can be put in place in Hindley.
Swimming rates at Hindley has declined month by month over the last two and a half years. It’s down a third in the last year. Proposals to boost usage by moving the nearby gym facilities into the building were discussed in detail but would cost around £550,000. The cabinet were told that there is no budget to continue to run the pool and that if no group presented their plan, the site would close on 31 December. To prevent instances of anti social behaviour, the building would then be demolished.
Closing the site would save £97,000 and contribute to the overall savings Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust must make. The WLCT budget decreases from £16.4m in 2009/10 to £10m by 2013/14 and officers told the Cabinet that this means they must concentrate on their statutory obligations. Last November, WLCT identified a budget to keep the pool open pending expressions of interest, but this was only achieved by reductions elsewhere and the meeting was told that this had to be a one-off expense.
Senior councillors said that they would strongly welcome and fully support any group who came forward with a serious proposal to keep the pool open.
There are three alternative pool sites within four miles: at Howe Bridge, Leigh Sports Village and the new Wigan Life Centre pools.