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Swimmers' fury as council votes through Sutton pool closure
6:14pm Wednesday 9th January 2013 in News
FURIOUS swimmers stormed out of a council cabinet meeting tonight after senior politicians went against public opinion and voted through plans to shut the pool at Sutton Leisure Centre.
Officers at St Helens Council recommended closing the pool to save funds and the local authority’s cabinet members unanimously approved the proposals, which would save £180,000 a year.
Swimming enthusiasts, who were strongly against the closure, gathered at the meeting, which was held in public at St Helens Town Hall.
But they left angrily after being unable to ask questions or voice their opinions.
Legally, members of the public can attend hearings but they are not allowed to speak to councillors or officers.
The decision was taken to “close and mothball” the pool. There is thought to be little likelihood of the pool reopening in the near future.
With the council having suffered a £36m cut in funding until 2012/2013 – with a further £14m to be slashed in coming years, leading politicians say painful choices had to be made.
But it was against public opinion.
Ninety eight per cent of the 163 people who responded individually to the council’s public consultation were against the pool being shutdown.
A petition of 1,142 names objecting to the proposals was also submitted.
Agenda papers at tonight’s cabinet meeting stated: “It is understandable that customers are opposed to the closure of a local facility, however this decision is not simply whether the swimming facility should remain open or close it relates to the council having to mitigate the impacts of the financial cuts that are being imposed on it by central government.”
Opening hours at Sutton Leisure Centre are also set to reduced, meaning it will operate only on weekdays between 4pm and 10pm.
Full report to follow on Thursday