Fears expressed for town pool’s future

Town leaders say the future of their much-loved pool is in jeopardy after the district council “washed its hands” of the facility.

Derbyshire Dales District Council approved plans for Wirksworth Learner Pool to be run as a private business in a bid to secure around £100,000 needed to upgrade it.

But town councillors fear the move will put the facility’s future in doubt and say day-to-day management should remain with the district council.

Cllr Irene Ratcliffe said: “The residents of Wirksworth are not fools. The district council is washing its hands of any liability for the service.

“It is not what is in the best interest of the pool.”

She added: “It is unfair that they are just targeting Wirksworth and we believe this business model is very fragile.

“We were told by council leader Lewis Rose that Wirksworth needs to stand on its own two feet, that the tired old council has no money and the pool is best handed back to the community to let the council look after the rest of its pools.”

The pool, which is currently leased by the district council from the Anthony Gell School Foundation, is in need of upgrading to provide disabled access and to deal with maintenance problems.

Rural Action Derbyshire was drafted in by the district council to host public meeting and give residents a chance to discuss the facility’s future.

The organisations findings show the pool is popular with families and used extensively by schools.

The report states: “The pool is a well-used facility and there is strong public support for the pool.”

The new business model sees volunteers playing an important role in the running of the pool – with fears this could threaten the facilities future if helpers do not come forward.

But district councillors voted in favour of the pool being run by a charitable company.

A council spokesman said the new charitable body would be able to access funds that were not available to the local authority to keep the pool open in the longer term.

To read a letter from Wirksworth councillors, go to page eight