Open air pool

IT APPEARS that our local authority has demonstrated its lack of imagination and pride, and intends to destroy a unique public facility – the Portishead Open Air Pool. But now is not the time for detailed examination of the council s financial case – hop

IT APPEARS that our local authority has demonstrated its lack of imagination and pride, and intends to destroy a unique public facility - the Portishead Open Air Pool.

But now is not the time for detailed examination of the council's financial case - hopefully, with the release of the complete information on income, costs and attendance there will be an opportunity for an informed response to the council's case, and a proper public consultation on all the alternatives, before any final decision is made.

No, now is the time for emotional responses, such as how come a town which is now nearly three times the size it was when the pool was opened in 1962 can apparently no longer afford to support it?

Even since the opening of the Parish Wharf Leisure Centre, we've added thousands to the population and yet North Somerset intends to reduce the opportunity for local swimming. Would those councillors advocating closure like to stand in front of our saddened and disappointed children?


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At least wait until all the new homes intended for Portishead are built and occupied, before even considering taking away existing local resources. How many of our new residents are aware that we have a 33m heated outdoor pool?

But, I think my strongest feeling is the sadness that our current local authority compares so poorly with those visionaries in the 1960s, who had the civic pride and imagination to open the pool and at a time when the general standard of living was lower than it is now.

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If North Somerset has closed their collective minds to alternatives, they should at least be prepared to delay any closure decision for a year or more to enable us the local people to get involved and try out some ideas for improving the area for all.

Some ideas include: re-instating the toddler paddling area; a proper year-round beach-front café; insulated pool cover to save heating costs (and enable longer opening hours); other out-of-season uses, such as gallery and exhibitions, music venue, ice rink. That we've had one of the poorest summers in recent years should not be used as an excuse to sell an irreplaceable asset to developers.

Any decision to make a permanent and irreversible change to Portishead's landscape is also too important to be slipped in mid-term - let us be able to vote for or against this at local election time.

Battery Point and the pool are a unique public space that should be enjoyed by all, not sold off to become expensive private flats for the few. So even if you are not a pool user, all Portishead residents should be very concerned about the future of the pool and its surroundings.

Get involved in the campaign, contact your local councillors, and help push for a full public consultation.

DAVID COOMBES - Slade Road, Portishead

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