At the last full meeting before Christmas, Wirksworth Town Council agreed a £4,000 (three per cent) rise to their budget for financial year 2012/13.
The council felt that it had no option but to take this decision as it was made to try to secure the future of the town’s swimming pool.
Derbyshire Dales District Council have had the future of the pool under review for some time now and have decided that the only way forward is to pass the running of the facility to a group of trustees from within the community. Wirksworth, being the resourceful and resilient community that it is, has found these trustees who are willing to manage the pool in lieu of the district council.
The trustees are now in the position of having to raise sufficient monies to keep the pool well maintained and open to the public. This led to an approach to the town council last autumn asking for an annual grant of £4,000 per annum for three years, £12,000 in total.
Knowing just how important this pool is to all sections of our community, especially the young and more elderly, the town council felt that it had no option but to support this request as the pool may have had to close without these monies.
It is important for the council tax payers of Wirksworth to understand that in effect they are now paying twice for the provision of a swimming pool in the town – once to the district council for all the pools in the Dales and now to the trustees via the town council.
This situation does not exist in any other of the major towns within the area of DDDC, Matlock, Bakewell and Ashbourne, all have pools completely managed and maintained completely by the district council.
Just to rub salt into the wound, figures we have received from DDDC show that the pools in the other towns run at a significant loss whereas the one in Wirksworth has a minor deficit by comparison.
I know and understand that we are in tough economic times and that all councils (including Wirksworth Town) are facing challenging times, but provision of core services eg, swimming pools, should be staying with those councils with the remit to provide them.
All too often now, we as a town council, are being requested to take over or contribute towards services that should be run by either DCC or DDDC.
I hope that the people of Wirksworth will understand and support this course of action which has led to the first rise in council tax by the town council since 2008.
Cllr Andy Pollock