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Campaigners blast town council over pool decision - but it will be back on the agenda soon




The fate of Chatteris Empress Swimming Pool will be back on the agenda at next month's town council meeting despite the authority already deciding against supporting it being made an Asset of Community Value.

The Empress Swimming Pool in Chatteris is set for re-auction on Tuesday (25).
The Empress Swimming Pool in Chatteris is set for re-auction on Tuesday (25).

Campaigners have blasted the town council, which discussed the swimming in a closed session at its June meeting last Tuesday.

Leading campaigner, Town Crier Lawrence Weetman, said the town council's decision defied the views of 1,180 people who have signed the petition in support of making the pool, which is set to go back to auction next week a community asset.

The Empress Swimming Pool in Chatteris is set for re-auction on Tuesday (25).
The Empress Swimming Pool in Chatteris is set for re-auction on Tuesday (25).

Mr Weetman said the Asset of Community Value status, which has been separately proposed by himself and the trustees who run the pool as tenants, would give fundraisers six months to try to save the pool.

It would also provide Fenland District Council with extra powers to reject any application for change of use or demolition, ensuring that a swimming pool could be retained by the people of Chatteris.

Fenland District Council,which is due to make a decision on the Asset of Community Value application early next month, has written to the original 137 supporters of the nomination.

The Empress Swimming Pool in Chatteris is set for re-auction on Tuesday (25).
The Empress Swimming Pool in Chatteris is set for re-auction on Tuesday (25).

Chatteris Town Council is an official consultee on the proposal.

Four local schools are among those who support the community asset bid.

The Cromwell Community College, Kingsfield Primary School, Glebelands Primary Academy, and Lionel Walden Primary Schools all use the Empress Pool to provide swimming lessons to pupils, which is a statutory requirement for primary schools and part of GCSE sports science for Cromwell pupils.

All four schools would be forced to other pools if the Empress closed - something they say would unacceptably eat into already stretched school budgets and result in extra travel time, resulting in less time for other lessons.

One primary school told Fenland District Council the move could see an end to swimming lessons altogether, with pupils taken for just a single session to assess their ability - resulting in damage to the school's recorded results.

Mr Weetman said: "We think the town council has based its decision on out-of-date information, an incomplete picture of the value of the pool to the community and potentially a misunderstanding of what the Asset of Community Value nomination would actually entail.

"It is clear from the overwhelming support of petitioners that people want to see the pool saved, it is clear that the local schools have few other options that aren't going to be extremely damaging for them and - with the pool coming up for auction so soon - it is clear that time is of the essence.

"We hope that the town council is able to reconsider its decision, and avoid causing any delay to the process that has been initiated by Fenland District Council."

Mrs Melton said: "It is correct at the moment we have decided not to support the pool being made an Asset of Community Value. The decision was made on financial, health and safety and legal implications.

"However, in the light of new information I have been asked to put it back on the agenda for the July 2 meeting.

"I have checked with Fenland Council and that fits with their schedule for decision making."

Petition: https://www.change.org/p/chatteris-town-council-list-the-empress-pool-in-chatteris-as-an-asset-of-community-value

Auction listing: https://www.barnardmarcusauctions.co.uk/auctions/25-june-2019/135960/



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