When will the swimming pool reopen, councillors demand
By David Wood | 10th October 2023
Councillors are demanding to know when the Barton pool will reopen to the public following the shock closure of Gloucester's GL1 leisure centre.
The Liberal Democrats have tabled questions to the Conservative cabinet member for culture and leisure asking a series of questions about the future of the swimming pool.
The GL1 leisure centre and Oxstalls tennis centre closed suddenly on Friday, September 29, with the loss of more than 150 jobs after charitable trust Aspire went into liquidation.
Sports clubs, such as Gloucester City Swimming Club, have been left in the cold as have many private coaching sessions which use the indoor facilities at GL1, and tennis courts and outdoor sport pitches at Oxstalls.
Gloucester City Council has since announced a phased reopening of both leisure venues, but no date has been fixed for when the public can start using the swimming pools again.
Cllr Jeremy Hilton, leader of Gloucester Liberal Democrats, said the Barton pool required substantial investment, including the reinstatement of a seating area.
"The information from the cabinet member and the council so far has been far too vague and lacking in detail and certainty," said Cllr Hilton.
"I'm asking the city council to set a date for the reopening of the swimming pools for the public as they are vital to sport and health in Gloucester.
"But it is not just about the reopening, it's also about investment.
"GL1 has lost out on considerable income from the hosting of swimming galas because the seating area is closed and needs replacing.
"The shower and changing facilities also require refurbishment and a fully operational fire system. When is this work going to be carried out?"
An extraordinary general meeting of the city council is due to be held on October 19 to debate the Aspire Trust debacle after Lib Dem and Labour councillors requested one.
The Lib Dems have already tabled a motion calling on council bosses to directly employ the staff to reopen the two sports centres as soon as possible.
Cllr Hilton added: "Around 150 people have been made redundant and I am concerned the city council is not guaranteeing they will be re-employed in the future.
"The best they are doing is offering them a job interview. They all lost their jobs overnight through no fault of their own and have had to deal with the financial turbulence that brings at times of rising prices and high inflation. The Tories really are uncaring."
Liberal Democrat councillors have raised concerns about the Aspire for some time now as it has been known the trust has been in financial difficulty for several years.
Cllr Sebastian Field, Liberal Democrat culture and leisure spokesman, added: "At the EGM we will be challenging the Conservative administration to reopen our sports facilities.
"It's clear they were inattentive and careless over their dealings with the Aspire Trust and now it is the people of Gloucester who are again paying the price for the failures of this Conservative administration."
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