Cash-strapped West Lindsey District Councillors are hoping grant funding or a private investor will pay for a swimming pool in Market Rasen – and will review plans “at least annually”.
Members of the Corporate Policy and Resources Committee on Thursday noted – but did not accept – the contents of a business case report which said the facility was “at this time… not viable”.
However, they did accept the authority itself could not afford to build or sustain the pool on top of the leisure centre.
They voted in favour of “ongoing consideration to the matter of bringing a swimming pool to Market Rasen… to ensure that all appropriate opportunities are actively pursued”.
“The frequency of these considerations to be determined by the chairman of the committee, but with an expectation that they will occur at least annually,” said the recommendation.
Local campaigners have been clamouring for a swimming pool to be included as part of the brand new £6.3million leisure centre on Gainsborough Road, which opened in July 2020, since plans were revealed in 2018.
They were told by council leaders it would not be sustainable or affordable and the poolless plans were approved in February 2019.
Proposing the latest measures, Conservative Councillor John McNeill said: “There is a need for a swimming pool in the Market Rasen area and clearly the leisure centre seems to be a prime choice.”
However, he said the report councillors had received “wasn’t as fulsome” as members would have liked.
“If we could find someone to pay for it, then obviously it would be affordable for us because as a business case has demonstrated in the paper it could make around 30,000 pounds a year. So we just need someone else to stump up four to six million quid.
“If anyone knows anyone who wants to do that, then do let them get in touch with us and we’ll happily sort that out,” he added.
He said ongoing review would allow for the information the council had to be improved and explored further without leaving it “vague”.
Independent Councillor Stephen Bunney, whose proposal for a wider ranging review covering the entirety of leisure across West Lindsey did not get approved, said that in light of COVID-19 there was now an “even stronger need for good leisure provision on the eastern side” of the district.
“There’s a number of people in the Rasen area who find it very difficult to do exercise at the moment because there isn’t the water for the buoyancy. They need to go to one of the other swimming pools which are available but … if you don’t drive or possibly want to go by public transport it’s almost impossible to get to those in an easy fashion.”
He said more information was needed, adding the report – carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic – felt like a “table top exercise”.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Matt Boles said it was “quite depressing” listening to the debate, which he said summed up where the council was in terms of leisure, sport, health and wellbeing.
“We’re so far off the mark with it. We’re missing so many opportunities across the district. We’re delivering so little it really is so disappointing,” he said.
However, Councillor Paul Howitt-Cohan said there were “other priorities” in the Market Rasen area.
“There are some serious problems in that area and the panacea and so forth is not the swimming pool,” he said. He felt leisure did not only encompass exercise, but also cultural things such as theatre, musical and other art-based endeavours.