Sunday, August 3, 2014
St Neots Town Council has pledged to hold a public meeting about proposals for a new swimming pool after residents launched a campaign to voice their own ideas of what is needed in the town.
Following discussion at a council meeting on Thursday (July 24), a new Facebook group dedicated to the debate has been created – and its membership has already swelled to more than 1,000 people.
Philip Rourke, 43, of Nelson Road, Eaton Socon, who set up the group and has been running an online poll about people’s ideas for the town, has drawn up a detailed plan for a four-lane pool, outdoor play area, splash park and snack bar after a contribution from a member of the group.
He said: “It is good that they have agreed to a public meeting - hopefully they will take on board people’s ideas.
“It is going to be a case of taking those ideas and creating something that’s feasible.”
John Woods, a committee member of the St Neots-based Swans Swimming Club, added that with the right choice of facility, tragedies such as the death of 15-year-old Rony John in the River Great Ouse at Huntingdon on Thursday may be prevented. He said: “Kids are kids, we have got rivers and lakes all around the area and you are never going to keep them away from water.
“However, if they make it an indoor pool then kids will get used to going there during the winter and are less likely to bother going down the river in the summer.”
Ed Reilly, town clerk, said: “The town council is very keen to get a swimming pool. We have had comments from lots of people through the neighbourhood plan about an outdoor pool or an indoor pool – there is still debate about that.”
He added that Huntingdonshire District Council began its six-week consultation about the town’s neighbourhood plan yesterday (Tuesday) and this was a good opportunity for people to put their views across about a swimming pool, as well as other issues.
The town council is planning to hold a specific meeting about the swimming pool. A date, time, and venue have yet to be finalised.
District councillor Steve Van De Kerkhove suggested that a referendum for the whole town may be the best solution to the problem, as residents could be asked whether they would be prepared to pay extra on their Council Tax for a year to fund their preferred scheme.
Town councillor Barry Chapman said: “If we can set up a meeting and talk people through the options that we have explored, or have taken as far as we can until they have fallen over, and if there is a feeling that they prefer a splash pool, then that has to become one of the options.”
INFORMATION: Search for the open group ‘St Neots Recreation’ on Facebook.