Dismay as councillors vote to close Kenilworth's outdoor pool

Kenilworth's outdoor pool will now definitely close
Kenilworth's outdoor pool will now definitely close

Campaigners reacted with dismay after Warwick District Council's executive unanimously voted to close Kenilworth's outdoor pool at a meeting last night (Wednesday).

The outdoor pool, which has been in the town in some form since 1896, will be replaced with an indoor training pool as part of the council's planned improvements to leisure facilities in Kenilworth.

Indicative plans of what the new pool could look like

Indicative plans of what the new pool could look like

Campaign group Restore Kenilworth Lido had hoped to persuade the council to replace the pool with a new 25m outdoor pool, which it claimed would attract more tourists to Kenilworth.

They, along with the council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee, had asked the executive to delay the decision so the lido plan could be properly evaluated.

But after a debate which lasted around an hour, members of the executive unanimously voted the plans through.

A packed public gallery reacted furiously to the decision, with cries of 'shame on you' clearly being heard.

Restore Kenilworth Lido campaigner Jane Green spoke at the meeting, and criticised a consultation on the plans held in November, claiming it was 'highly confusing' for many people. She also said lidos could be commercially viable.

She told the executive: "Please don't deliver an injustice to Kenilworth voters."

November's consultation saw 41 per cent of respondents preferring to keep the outdoor pool as it is, with 32 per cent preferring an indoor pool and the rest having no preference. 25 per cent also made a separate preference for a lido.

Cllr Alan Boad (Lib Dem, Crown), of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, told the executive they had 'ignored' the consultation, and said making a decision to close or keep an outdoor pool was 'a once in a lifetime opportunity'.

He added: "What we're asking for is a pause. Let's do the job properly and look at it [again]."

The council's leader Cllr Andrew Mobbs (Con, Park Hill) replied: "I've every confidence in our officers that they do the job properly."

Cllr Alan Rhead (Con, Budbrooke) said although a public meeting held on Saturday January 5 in Kenilworth about the pool was well attended, he claimed it represented less than one per cent of Kenilworth's population.

He added: "We are best serving the interests of all of Kenilworth and the district's taxpayers."

And Cllr Moira-Ann Grainger (Con, Woodloes) said: "The thought of providing an outdoor pool in any shape or form is a luxury we cannot justify. I think this authority has to take decisions which won't get everyone jumping up and down [with joy]."

Finally, portfolio holder for leisure Cllr Michael Coker (Con, Abbey), who was highly criticised for not attending Saturday's public meeting, said a new consultation would just produce a similar result to the first one.

He said: "We've listened to their [Restore Kenilworth Lido's] concerns throughout. We've done as much as we possibly could.

"[The pool] would be available for 12 months a year. That's a better bet for the community as a whole."

The executive unanimously voted to reject Cllr Boad's motion to defer the vote, and then all voted to push the plans through to the next stage.

Along with the new indoor pool, the plans at Abbey Fields will include an upgrade of the changing rooms, reception and cafe, as well as a refurbishment of the pavilion by the play area. The tennis courts would also be resurfaced.

And Castle Farm’s building will be replaced with a six-court sports hall, an 80-station gym and dance studios. The council is also aiming to give the Scout groups who use Castle Farm a new home. It would not be part of the new building.

More details on the plans will be revealed at a later date.