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Swimming Pools: Council Responds To Public Opinion

Pools remain open as Manchester City Council finds itself in deep water

Published on March 27th 2013.


Swimming Pools: Council Responds To Public Opinion
 

THREE swimming pools will remain open while replacement facilities are built under recommendations announced by Manchester City Council (MCC).

These business cases have now been assessed and as a result it is recommended, subject to approval by the Council’s Executive on 10 April, that Levenshulme, Miles Platting and Withington pools all remain open during the transition period to replacement facilities. 
MCC says this is as a result of the council listening to communities’ views during consultation. Other commentators say this is a u-turn in policy after it was mis-managed to start with. Instead of holding consultations and then making policy, decisions were delived as a fait accompli and the consultations only followed when there was a public outcry. 

This week Confidential will publish an interview with Sir Richard Leese examining the issue of democratic accountability and how the mechanisms of the city council work.

 

All that follows is MCC's own press release. 

The Council announced in January that it was investing £10m in modern facilities for Chorlton/Withington at Hough End and Levenshulme, both opening in spring 2015, as part of its leisure strategy. This funding, which has been confirmed, was in addition to the already-funded new pool in Beswick, to open next year. 

The pools will replace the existing pools in Chorlton, Withington, Levenshulme and Miles Platting.

But the budget pressures faced by the Council following the government’s financial settlement, in which it was handed the biggest percentage cut of any major metropolitan area outside London, meant that it could not find mainstream revenue funding to keep the four pools open until the new facilities were ready. All four are old, in poor condition and have comparatively high maintenance and running costs. It was also proposed the Broadway Pool in New Moston would be closed.

However, during the consultation – which attracted almost 1,000 responses - strong local support was shown for the pools and the Council invited proposals from community-based organisations, working together with local councillors, setting out business cases for alternative funding models which could keep them open for now.

These business cases have now been assessed and as a result it is recommended, subject to approval by the Council’s Executive on 10 April, that Levenshulme, Miles Platting and Withington pools all remain open during the transition period to replacement facilities. However, this has not been possible for Broadway and alternative arrangements are being developed to help current pool users access facilities in nearby Harpurhey and Chadderton.

Deputy Council leader Councillor Jim Battle said: "The commitment we’ve seen from communities to these facilities has been impressive.

"The council has listened carefully to what communities and councillors have been saying during the consultation. We have worked together with them and it’s now possible to put forward interim solutions for Miles Platting, Withington and Levenshulme.

"However, despite extensive efforts it hasn’t been possible to find a workable solution for Broadway. We remain committed to working with the community to develop new pools and, in the case of Broadway, to support access to alternative facilities."

Withington, Miles Platting and Levenshulme Pools will all remain open under the current management arrangements. Each business case identifies different alternative funding models. Withington’s is based on community fund raising underwritten by council CASH grants; The Miles Platting and Levenshulme plans use a mixture of funding streams including CASH grants with public health programme funding also making a contribution, subject to approval.

Subject to Executive approval, Broadway Pool will close on 26 May. Manchester Sport and Leisure Trust is working with Broadway’s existing users to help them transfer to North City Family and Fitness Centre in Harpurhey. The Trust will also work with Oldham Community Leisure Trust to ensure they can access comparably-priced modern facilities in nearby Failsworth (2.2 miles) and Chadderton (2.3 miles.)

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Hero
Penny CloustonMarch 27th 2013.

It's good to see that there is a commitment to keep the baths open until replacement facilities are open. I say this simply because there does not appear to have been any plans drawn up for the the replacement baths and library combined facility at Levenshulme which is surprising if they are meant to be opening in 2015.

AnonymousMarch 28th 2013.

I seem to remember our local sure start centre being scheduled for closure and suprise, suprise reprieved at the behest of the incumbent councillors just before the elections. No elections this year but expect to see candidates claiming the credit for saving swimming pools in a year's time.

Could the money used to fund the short lived and select Alicia Keys leisure opportunity had greater benefit if applied to leisure in local commununities? I think we know the answer.

Its time for a critical analysis of what is happening rather than regurgitating council press releases.

Jim SymcoxApril 1st 2013.

Pity the Droylsden pool wasn;t kept open until a replacement was built...

AnonymousApril 1st 2013.

I wish some large, influential companies were as open and accountable as public authorities. Peel Holdings are you listening?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 1st 2013.

that goes for all their paid PR people that post on public forums too....

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