IT WILL be the last throw of the dice for campaigners fighting to stop the axe falling on their much-loved Southampton swimming pool.
Southampton City Council leaders will be forced to face an army of angry campaigners as they head inside the civic offices to make their final decision on the future of Oaklands Swimming Pool.
Thousands of leaflets have been delivered to residents across the city urging them to take part in the lastditch protest that could force council bosses into a U-turn.
As previously reported in the Daily Echo, the community pool faces being demolished under current council redevelopment plans – putting 33 jobs at risk. A consultation on the future of the pool was launched by the council after halting repairs and voting to withdraw its £233,000 annual funding from next year.
The council reckons it will cost up to £500,000 to carry out a backlog of repairs to give the pool another five to ten-year lifespan.
But opposition Tories say it will cost as little as £10,000 to fix a leak and get the pool reopened. They say the closure decision this year is costing the public tens of thousands of pounds more than it would by keeping it open.
A final decision will be made at a special council meeting on September 12, so campaigners are organising a last demonstration outside the council offices an hour before the meeting starts at 2pm.
Coxford ward Labour councillors Keith Morrell and Don Thomas, who are both under investigation for voting against party leaders on the issue, will be taking part, alongside unions Unite and Unison, who are organising the lobby.
Cllr Morrell said: “This is the last throw of the dice.
Once the decision is made on the day, there is no going back so we have to do this. This is our last chance to influence the Cabinet member and hopefully we can help change his mind.
“It could be an 11th hour decision and we need to make sure were are there putting on the pressure to make the difference.
“Councillor Thomas and I represent our constituents and this is a blow against our constituents which we think is totally unacceptable. I don’t believe there was the opportunity for alternatives to be put forward before the proposals were made. It is a failure of democracy in the Labour group.”
The council insists that no decision has yet been made but Cabinet member for leisure, Cllr Warwick Payne, who has blamed the state of the pool on the previous Conservative administration, has said that 19 of the 21 full-time staff had been redeployed.
Mike Tucker, from Unison, added: “We have members who work there and provide a great service to the public and it is also an important community resource in a deprived area. We think the Labour council should reconsider its decision.”
The demonstration will take place outside the civic centre offices from 1pm.