DCSIMG

One year without a pool - closure had devastating effect say action group

Members of the Minsthorpe Pool Action Group keep the campaign in the thoughts of local people one year after the pool closed.
Picture: Pool campaign organisers Cynthia Bressani, Bev Unwin, Elain Dawson, Janet Brown and David Fitzgerald.
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Members of the Minsthorpe Pool Action Group keep the campaign in the thoughts of local people one year after the pool closed. Picture: Pool campaign organisers Cynthia Bressani, Bev Unwin, Elain Dawson, Janet Brown and David Fitzgerald. p307a415

Minsthorpe Swimming Pool closed down a year ago.

Members 
of an action group say the 
closure has had a devastating effect on the area, with 
children forced to travel miles for swimming lessons and 
elderly people left without their favourite physical and social activity.

The Minsthorpe Pool Action Group (MPAG) is now working hard to make sure the south east is not forgotten and that Wakefield Council sticks to its promise to provide a new pool in the area.

The action group was formed by residents who were left angry and disheartened by 
the council’s decision to close 
the South Elmsall pool on April 15, 2013.

Its members have already organised petitions, a blue plaque campaign and a public demonstration as they tried to save the Ash Grove pool or secure a new facility. After councillors agreed a new leisure centre or pool would be built, MPAG members launched a survey to find out where residents wanted it to be located.

They have also organised a competition with local schools asking pupils to design a model or picture of what they want the new facility to look like.

Over the past year, the group’s work has identified a number of residents who have been left socially isolated, financially worse off or concerned about youngsters’ swimming safety because of the pool’s closure.

Businesses in the area – such as the Co-op and Shirley’s Chippy, both on Ash Grove – have seen a drop in trade.

Jean Downs, 64, of Minsthorpe Lane, said: “My daughter died six years ago and me and my husband brought the grandchildren to live with us. My husband died almost a year since so I am having to take my grandson, Brandon, to Pontefract baths for his swimming lessons on my own. It costs 
extra money for petrol and when it was dark nights I didn’t like driving there and back on my own.

“When Minsthorpe Pool was open it was right next to my grandson’s school and I could go to the over-50s class. I’d meet my friends and have a good swim, I used to really enjoy it. Since my husband has died, having a little one to talk to all the time is not the same as adult conversation. I miss my friends and the social aspect of it but there is no way I could go to the Pontefract session and be back in time to pick Brandon up from school.”

MPAG wants Wakefield Council to provide a temporary solution while the details of a permanent facility are worked out – something that almost 70 per cent of survey respondents agreed with

Andy Picken, group spokesman, said: “We are still active as it is by no means a given this pool will be provided, and the gap from now to it actually being built and open is likely to be at least a few years, so we are keeping up our efforts to have this issue at the forefront of people’s minds and keep it high on the agenda at Wakefield Council.”

Lisa Dodd-Mayne, service director for culture and sport at Wakefield Council, said: “We are committed to providing a modern, high-quality and fit-for-purpose swimming pool for this part of the district.

“We are already in dialogue with interested groups, including all town and parish councils, about possible locations of the new pool and the future funding and management of the site.”

Visit www.wakefield.gov.uk/leisureconsultation to 
take part in the consultation process.

 

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