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Beccles outdoor pool is saved

PUBLISHED: 07:30 30 July 2009 | UPDATED: 11:09 06 July 2010

Campaigners in Beccles are celebrating after winning a three-year battle to save the town's outdoor swimming pool from closure.

Waveney District Council, which gave up running the pool in April because it was not cost-effective, agreed to hand over the running of the pool to Beccles Lido Ltd (BLL), which was formed by supporters.

Campaigners in Beccles are celebrating after taking a key step forward in a three-year battle to save the town's outdoor swimming pool from closure.

Waveney District Council, which gave up running the pool in April because it was not cost-effective, agreed to hand over the running of the pool to Beccles Lido Ltd (BLL), which was formed by supporters.

One of BLL's directors, Shaun Crowley, said he was "confident" the pool would open in time for next summer, but said support from the community was crucial.

"It's good news," he said. "We are delighted that Waveney has approved the transfer of the pool to Beccles Lido Ltd at last, although we continue to be a bit frustrated about the length of time it is all taking."

The decision was taken by the council's cabinet on Tuesday to transfer the facility, with the condition that if BLL does not have funding for the pool in place by April 2011, the council will reclaim and sell the asset.

Following negotiations, the two parties will now agree a lease or freehold transfer of the pool, which opened 50 years ago this summer.

Mr Crowley said: "Until we have the lease, it's almost impossible to get access to external funding. It's a chicken and egg situation. What we have been doing is running our own internal fundraising events."

He said that while the big money grants were still inaccessible, a concert, monthly coffee mornings and a lottery were helping to boost funds, and that the group was keeping supporters updated via a Facebook page and Twitter account.

He said the company was more than a third of the way to raising the £100,000 that Waveney has insisted must be invested in repairs before the pool can be opened.

"I think it's important for local people and businesses to understand we've come a long way. Waveney are now behind us and Beccles Town Council are behind us.

"What we desperately need now is for local people and local businesses to get behind us. We've had lots of great comments and letters. I guess what we need now is for people and services to put their money where their mouth is."

He said practical help to make repairs to the site were just as welcome as cash donations, and that such support would provide the evidence of community backing that would be needed to attract grants.

Mr Crowley said the Beccles Lido Lottery, which brings in £2,500 a year, could become crucial for funding repairs and running costs.

"It's a small financial commitment for people to make but it's a massive difference to us," he said.

Graham Elliott, district councillor for Beccles North, welcomed the decision but warned that the transfer needed to be undertaken swiftly, adding: "It's good, but we must not lose momentum. Enthusiasm cannot be held indefinitely."

Beccles Lido Ltd was founded out of Friends of Beccles Open Air Swimming Pool, which was set up in 2006.

See www.beccleslido.com or visit Facebook or Twitter.

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