Over 18 months ago Stoke-on-Trent City Council closed the doors to Tunstall Pool, realising it could save over £100k year running costs by losing this facility, and over £312 in over-inflated maintenance costs.
Not long after the failed Tunstall Community Pool bid to take over the pool, plans were announced that Dimensions was to get a brand spanking new 25 meters pool added onto the building, finally making it a destination for adults to swim to go with it's excellent leisure facilites.
The building is approximately 113 years old and is considered one of the last working Victorian pools. Thebuilding currently has significant maintenance issues with backlog maintenance costs estimated at £83k andlifecycle costs estimated at £312k. These maintenance issues include replacing cubicle doors and panelspoolside, damp proofing of the changing facilities and offices and decorative work of reception, meeting roomsand the toilets. The Sports and Physical Activity Strategy proposes that a new 25m pool is provided atDimensions, work is ongoing to identify funding for this proposal. Savings are factored into year 3 with theproposal to close Tunstall Pool in 2012 following consultation.
Develop a 25 m x 6 lane pool in addition to the current leisure pool. This will be a replacement for Tunstall Pool.
So, what's happening to these top health and fitness priorities?
Potteye website is reporting that the plans are in tatters, and the supposed funding if there, has now vanished.
Potteye's founder, Mike Barnes will be asking in the forth coming City Council meeting, and has had an early response.
Last year, as reported in the Sentinel, Friday, December 23, 2011, whilst closing two other swimming pools the City Council announced £500,000 of taxpayer money and another potential £500,000 from the private sector or grants to improve the swimming facilities at the previously condemned Dimensions Leisure Centre.Since that time no other announcements have been made on the progress of this publicly announced investment.What progress has been made with the improvements and how much of the £500,000 has been invest so far?
In 2010/11 the Council identified that it would make a future commitment in budget year 2014/15 of £500,000 towards the development of a new 25m swimming pool at Dimensions Leisure Centre.It is currently estimated that the development would cost in the region of £4million.An opportunity will potentially arise in the next 12 months to secure up to a maximum of £1m from the Sport England Lottery Iconic Fund, however, this will not be sufficient to deliver the scheme and it is important to note that there will also be a high level of interest nationally in bidding for this funding.Discussions are also underway with the Amateur Swimming Association to establish the level of support for this scheme however, it is unlikely that the ASA will be able to provide a large funding investment for the development.On this basis, clearly a large funding gap still exists. In light of these challenges a contingency plan is also being developed through the Councils invest to save process. This would see a range of additional facilities created at Dimensions which would greatly improve the facilities long term sustainability whilst enhancing the opportunity to increase participation levels at the site.It would also require a reduced level of investment and on-going revenue liabilities compared to the provision of a new pool and is thus potentially more deliverable given the current financial climate.It should be further noted that in September 2011 the Council took over the operation of the 25m pool at New Horizons Sport and Leisure Centre, at that time the facility was not utilised to its full potential and work has been underway since to enhance the centres programme of use.This process will ensure that the centre can effectively serve as a key hub for the provision of swimming and other aquatic sports in the north of the city. Whilst in the long term a new 25m pool at Dimensions remains a desirable development, this strategy will help to ensure that residents and visitors to the north of the city are able to access a traditional swimming pool along with a full range of services and activities.