Smaller than the old Knightstone Pool

MUCH has been written and said about the size and bulk of the Boot development, yet not too much comment has been made about the pool which is, after all, what

MUCH has been written and said about the size and bulk of the Boot development, yet not too much comment has been made about the pool which is, after all, what this give away site was intended to provide and what Weston so desperately needs.From what I have gathered from the leaflets and general publicity we will have a number of flumes discharging into a small pool. I am sure that will be great fun but it is the swimming pool which I am concerned about.A six lane swimming pool, 25 metres long, is smaller than the old Knightstone Pool which was 33 metres long and had six lanes. It is also much smaller than Hutton Moor, which has eight lanes. This water area is totally inadequate, is this what we really want? A six lane, 25 metre pool, has a water area of about 400 sq metres. The old Tropicana had 790 sq metres, Hutton Moor has 540 sq metres, the Oasis at Swindon 715 and the Parish Wharf at Portishead 375. These figures were taken from a June 2005 council report which also researched the cost of providing a council funded pool (option 5). The proposal covered both an indoor leisure pool, incorporating an outdoor element, with a total water area of 800 sq metres at a gross cost of £8.5million. However, the new build option would take up only half the available site, leaving a potential area for complementary development. This commercial area had a capital value of £2.5million. Therefore, the net capital cost is potentially £6million. The capital interest cost, plus the operational costs and future investment costs, would mean that a total funding of £940,000 per year would be needed. Translating that to council tax would add less than £13 per year to the council tax bill. As the town council wishes to put £16 on our council tax bill next year for play areas, etc, instead of funding a number of smaller projects, perhaps funding the Tropicana might not be such a bad idea.One big fly in the ointment is that, in order to meet the cost of a £13 council tax increase, this would need to be funded by all the 75,000 Band D properties in North Somerset - not just Weston. As 38 out of the 61 North Somerset councillors come from outside of Weston it is unlikely the Clevedon, Nailsea and Portishead residents would be keen to fork out money for Weston. However, perhaps they should be reminded that Weston pays one-third of the cost of their pools!Incidentally, out of 422 votes cast at a public display in June 2005, some 257 were for this option 5, and only 48 were for the Henry Boot proposal. Who says consultation doesn't work? The people of Weston!North Somerset Council has never shown an aptitude for selling off public property - it has more of a give away approach. As a building site the Tropicana must be worth £5million and, when linked with Knightstone, the two sites together must be among the most valuable sites in the South West. Yet, what does this public owned land fetch? Peanuts - a developer's delight.The other thing North Somerset Council is not very good at is negotiating a lease. Once signed, it suddenly starts leaking like a sieve, or the developer finds some extenuating circumstances to change the goal posts. It would appear, that even after 12 months, Mr Boot could back out of the deal if the pool does not prove viable for its operator and, like a boomerang, it would come back as a cost to the council tax payer. If I was cynical, which of course I am not, I might suggest the pool has been designed to fail.What was made very clear in the original submission to developers was the fact that Weston wanted a swimming pool equal in size to the existing Tropicana. Until now the dimensions of this pool area have been kept secret - and we now know why. Unfortunately, this is the only offer on the table and the councillors must be leaking blood from every pore in their efforts to get rid of this embarrassment. KEN LACEY - Clarence Grove Road, Weston


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