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Oaklands swimming pool to reopen after controversial closure
A SWIMMING pool in Southampton is set to reopen next autumn, more than two years after it closed.
When Oaklands Pool shut last May for repairs many feared it would never reopen. But council chiefs are set to rubberstamp plans to spend almost £1.7m on an overhaul of the facility.
City council leader Simon Letts says the deal, which will see a community group take on the running of the pool, will secure its future for the next two decades.
The council closed the pool last year following a long-standing leak problem, sparking the foundation of the Save the Oaklands Pool campaign group.
But now, at its next meeting on October 15, the city council’s Cabinet is set to approve spending £1.67m over three years while a £73,000 loan will be given to the Oaklands Community Pool Limited group.
The group, which will sign a 25-year lease to manage the facility, includes people with expertise of running a pool.
The Lordshill Community Association is also in negotiations to use rooms at the pool for its own meetings.
The plans will then go before the full council for approval in November, and building work could begin in January.
Repair work will be carried out on the pool’s roof, while a mechanical and electrical upgrade will also take place.
Although building work is set for completion by January 2015, council chiefs believe it may be able to reopen the pool next September or October.
Coxford Labour councillor Sally Spicer said: “It has been nailbiting up to now. There were times when it didn’t appear that it would happen. This is a great opportunity for the local community to have their pool back, and it will be much cheaper to run than it was before.”
Cllr Letts said: “I’m delighted that we have found a well-organised and resourced community group prepared to take on the pool.
“Within a year we want to have Oaklands Pool open and we have guaranteed its future for the next two decades.”
Lordshill resident Dan Lally, assistant manager at Red Lodge Community Pool, will manage the pool alongside six fellow staff members on a day-to-day basis.
He said: “This has been a long time coming – I’ve been trying to get it out of the demolition zone ever since it closed last year.”
Rebel Coxford Labour Councillor Against the Cuts Don Thomas said: “Everyone involved in the Save Oaklands Pool campaign deserve recognition for what they have achieved. Shamefully that recognition has been denied by Labour councillors, who closed the pool in the first place and cheekily now want to take all the credit for saving it.
“It begs the question why do users have to wait yet another year before it’s re-opened?”
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