OPPOSITION Tories will today demand a referendum over the closure of a popular Southampton pool as Labour agrees to hold one for a controversial new power station.

Council leader Richard Williams will unveil a draft question for a public vote on a proposed £300m wood fired energy station at the docks.

The local referendum, thought to be a UK first, is set to receive cross-party support but Conservatives will also call for a poll on the closure of Oaklands swimming pool in Lordshill when the issues are debated this afternoon.

Labour leaders want to shut the loss-making pool - popular with children, older and disabled residents - as part of a “mini-budget”.

The pool, which employs 33 staff, requires a £235,000 annual subsidy and costly repairs.

Labour ward councillors in Coxford - former Cabinet member Keith Morrell, Don Thomas and Sally Spicer - have already vowed to fight to save it and may vote against the budget proposals later.

Tory group deputy leader Jeremy Moulton said residents in Coxford and Redbridge should be given a vote.

He said: “Should they decide to push ahead with the closure then we will be calling for a public vote so that the local community can make their position clear about whether they want to keep their local pool.

“Given what the leader of the council has said about how he favours referenda and how keen he is to consult with and listen to residents, if he wants his words to be taken seriously he should back this vote."

Cllr Williams said he wanted to hold a “preferendum” in Freemantle and Millbrook on the 100-megawatt power station as part of a pledge to do more to “engage and enthuse” the electorate in local democracy.

Subject to legal approval it is likely to held alongside elections for a new county police commissioner in November. Labour has earmarked £5,000 to pay for it.

While not legally binding it would be an influential consideration when the developer Helius Energy submits its plans to in the autumn.