Millions for new pool as services cut

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A long-awaited report into the district’s leisure services has revealed that a new pool costing at least £4m is likely to be built in Hemsworth or South Elmsall.

Wakefield Council’s cabinet is set to formally approve the new pool plan at a meeting on Tuesday.

The ‘Leisure – Fundamental Service Review’ report sets out a number of options, including building a new £7.3m pool and leisure centre on the current Minsthorpe Swimming Pool site, a £4.2m pool at Minsthorpe Community College or a £4m pool at Hemsworth Arts and Community Academy.

The colleges would take responsibility for the running of the facilities if located on their sites, although Hemsworth Academy would not bear the financial responsibility.

The fourth option would be to consider an alternative location within the south east and to pass on the running responsibility to town and parish councils, although the reports states there are concerns about the practicality of this option.

Minsthorpe Pool was closed last year as it needed repairs costing £1.1m, with the council announcing plans to build a replacement pool for the south east last week.

The report will be considered by the regeneration and economic growth overview and scrutiny committee before any final decisions about the new facility’s location and day-to-day running are made.

The leisure review was released in the same week that the council set out how it intends to make £61m of savings in the next two years.

The budget report, to be considered by cabinet next week, revealed plans to slash 1,400 more jobs and increase council tax by two per cent.

It proposes cuts of £20m from the adult care budget, £5m from services for children and young people and £8m by reorganising bereavement services.

CCTV coverage will be reduced, charges for bulky waste collections will increase and parks and open spaces will be kept in a more ‘unkempt, natural state’.

The leisure review was commissioned by the council as it sought to find the savings it needed to make.

The council runs seven pools - not including Minsthorpe - across the district on a budget on £2.9m.

The report also reveals that Pontefract, Castleford and Knottingley Pools are at risk of closure, with possible plans to replace the three with one new leisure facility in the Five Towns area.

Council leader Coun Peter Box said: “We’ve now reached the stage where it would be wrong to say that we can continue to protect front line services. I hate to say it, but there is no doubt that service quality will start to suffer. That is the reality we face.”

l See next week’s Express for more on this story.