Council to splash out on pool repairs

ST NEOTS S indoor swimming pool will have to close for about five months later this year for work to replace the roof. The pool s manager had to order an emergency evacuation last week during a thunderstorm, when leaking water was threatening to seep into

ST NEOTS'S indoor swimming pool will have to close for about five months later this year for work to replace the roof.

The pool's manager had to order an emergency evacuation last week during a thunderstorm, when leaking water was threatening to seep into electrical systems.

Although Huntingdonshire District Council, which runs the facility on the community college site, insists the pool remains safe for the public to use, it has had to bring forward £460,000 repair and improvement work to the 22-year-old baths.

The roof will cost £250,000, according to estimates included in a recent condition survey carried out by the council of all five of the district's leisure centres.

HDC will refurbish the foyer, changing rooms and spectator area - much of which has not been updated since the pool opened in 1985 - to avoid further closure for the internal work.

But that is not the full extent of the cost to the council. St Neots pool is one of the few in the country at which patronage is increasing, and the council will lose thousands of pounds in revenue from swimmers.

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Staff salaries will also still have to be paid, although some people will be redeployed to other leisure centres.

The council hopes to minimise the loss of revenue by encouraging swimmers to travel to Huntingdon or St Ives. In reality, many may cross the border to swim in Bedford.

HDC will be looking to Cambridgeshire County Council for a significant contribution to the cost of repair and refurbishment. The pool is on the site of St Neots Community College in Eynesbury and is used extensively by pupils during term time.

The work is unlikely to start before the autumn, following two or three months preparing and evaluating tenders.

Replacing the roof is estimated to involve 24 weeks work.

"The minimum is likely to be 20 weeks," said HDC's head of administration Roy Reeves.

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