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Oaklands pool consultation branded 'a sham'
It comes as opposition Conservatives claim it will cost taxpayers more money by keeping Oaklands Swimming Pool closed than reopening it for the rest of the year.
Labour has aborted urgent repairs to a leaky pipe that closed the pool in May and voted to withdraw a £235,000 subsidy from the pool next year, putting 33 jobs at risk.
Council leaders insist a final decision on the pool has not been made and have launched a public consultation on the impact of its closure and possible alternatives.
But Coxford ward councillors Keith Morrell and Don Thomas who are under party investigation after voting against the budget cuts to the pool said the consultation repeats misinformation about the cost of repairs needed, and a survey form offers no option to re-open it.
They also criticised the council for failing to properly advertise three two-hour “consultation events”, which they said was not enough.
Cllr Thomas called the consultation “feeble”, while Cllr Morrell added: “The council has a responsibility to treat citizens as grown-ups and consult them properly. This consultation is a sham.”
Fellow ward councillor Sally Spicer who vowed to move “heaven and earth” to save the pool, voted to cut pool funding.
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 years lifespan.
Deputy Tory group leader Jeremy Moulton said the pool could be reopened for as little as £10,000 by completing urgent repairs.
He said: “The closure decision this year is costing the public tens of thousands more than it would keeping it open this year.
“Had Labour spent the extra £10,000 and finished the works we would now be bringing in income from swimming visits.
“So the public purse loses tens of thousands of pounds and the public are missing out on 300 swims a day.”
Labour leisure boss councillor Warwick Payne said the Conservatives’ figures were based on a “best case scenario” and said the repairs could cost a lot more if the pipes were further gone than first thought and other problems arose.
He insisted Labour was keen to hear from community groups or other organisation interested in taking over the running of the pool.
He said the consultation event locations had been chosen to hear from a broad cross-section of pool users and those that don’t.