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Campaign gathers pace

PUBLISHED: 11:20 29 April 2009 | UPDATED: 09:14 06 July 2010

CAMPAIGNERS bidding to run the open-air pool in Beccles say they view a step taken yesterday by Waveney District Council in support of their project as a "springboard" to turning their dream into a reality.

CAMPAIGNERS bidding to run the open-air pool in Beccles say they view a step taken yesterday by Waveney District Council in support of their project as a “springboard” to turning their dream into a reality.

Waveney's head of services David Gallagher said the council would help take the ambitious proposal forward by writing a letter of intent to Beccles Lido Ltd (BLL). The letter will enable the newly formed company to apply for charitable status, which will open doors to grants that are not available for council-run facilities and could therefore be crucial to securing the pool's future.

But along with the show of support it was also confirmed that the necessary repairs will not be done in time to reopen the pool this summer, which would mark its 50th anniversary.

Councillors decided at a cabinet meeting last September to give up the running of the pool from April 2009, saying it was not cost-effective.

Speaking at an extraordinary scrutiny sub-committee meeting yesterday, Graham Elliott, district councillor for Beccles North, said that since the meeting there had been huge progress made between the group trying to save the pool and the council, adding: have realised if they don't do it it's going to be closed, and closed for ever.”

One of BLL's directors Shaun Crowley said he felt it was a shame the process had taken so long that the pool could not be opened in time for this season.

“We are hugely disappointed about that,” he said, adding he was pleased with the council's support. “It's really positive that they believe in us and we can use this as a springboard to access the money we need.”

He said nearly £50,000 had already been raised from events, donations and small grants, and that he felt confident that the estimated £93,000 needed to open the pool as a safe facility could be met.

He said a “patch-up approach” had been taken by Waveney over many years that had contributed to the estimated total repair bill of £241,000 to return the pool to satisfactory working conditions, but said he believed the amount could be found in the longer term, and that the closed season would be used to prepare for the following year.

Mr Crowley said: “Two or three years ago people thought we were hare-brained. Now that Waveney's on board we need everybody on board. It will be a reality. People need to get behind this.”

Members voted yesterday for another meeting on the future of the pool on July 1 for a progress report, with a view to BLL operating the pool from 2010, as long as it proved to be viable.

Stephen Ardley, the councillor responsible for health and wellbeing, said after the meeting that the handover, although still not definite, was a real possibility.

“We want this not to lose momentum and to get funding in place as soon as possible so that the repairs can start with a view to opening in May 2010,” he said.

BLL has just launched a monthly lottery, with the first draw on May 1. Visit www.beccleslido.com.

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