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D-Day for Oaklands Swimming Pool funding
Southampton councillors will today face a wall of protest as they confirm £2.5m of budget cuts that will see funding slashed for a popular city pool.
The Labour -run council will today make a final decision to withdraw a £235,000 annual subsidy from Oaklands pool next April and axe 33 jobs.
Rebel ward councillors, pool users, community leaders and union members will stage a protest at the Civic Centre calling for councillors to rethink the cuts and reopen the Lordshill pool while its long-term future is resolved. It was shut in May.
Save Oaklands Pool campaigners will also deliver a petition of over 1000 signatures to councillors.
Labour council leaders say the loss-making pool, which attracted more than 80,000 swims last year and is popular with school groups, swimming clubs and the elderly and disabled, is too costly to run and repair.
Coxford councillors Don Thomas Don Thomas and Keith Morrell last night vowed to continue to fight for the pool to be saved as a “much-valued public asset”.
“The battle to save Oaklands will go on until the day the pool is reopened,” Councillor Thomas said.
The pair are still under investigation by Labour party enforcers for voting against the proposed pool cuts two months ago.
Unison branch secretary Mike Tucker said: “It is disappointing that while the council is planning to spend millions on an arts complex in the city centre, it is not prepared to fund a swimming pool in Lordshill.
“Given the success of the London Olympics , the council should not be closing the one swimming pool which it directly runs.”
Southampton’s leisure boss, Councillor Warwick Payne, said: “It’s not a case that the subsidy is being withdrawn because the council wants to be nasty.
“It’s that the council no longer has the money available to provide the subsidy.”
He said the pool could reopen if a community group or other organisation stepped in to run it.
Tories have called for the pool to remain reopen until a replacement is provided.
As previously reported, the mini-budget of cuts and savings, worth up to £2.5m a year, is being approved to tackle the council’s budget deficit of £42m.