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Gesture of support buoys pool's cause

PUBLISHED: 10:24 29 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:10 01 August 2010

CAMPAIGNERS bidding to run the open-air pool at 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 reality.

CAMPAIGNERS bidding to run the open-air pool at 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 reality.

Waveney's head of services, David Gallagher, said the council would write to Beccles Lido Ltd (BLL) to enable the newly-formed company to apply for charitable status.

Such a step would open doors to grants that were not available for council-run facilities and could be crucial to securing the long-established pool's future. But the necessary repairs would 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 this month, saying it was not cost-effective.

But, at an extraordinary scrutiny sub-committee meeting yesterday, council member Graham Elliott said huge progress had been made since then between the group trying to save the pool and the council.

One of BLL's directors, Shaun Crowley, said there was huge disappointment that the process had taken so long that the pool could not be opened in time for this season. But he stressed 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 added.

Mr Crowley said nearly £50,000 had already been raised from events, gifts and small grants, and he felt confident the estimated £93,000 needed to open the pool as a safe amenity could be achieved.

He said a “patch-up approach” had been adopted by Waveney over many years, and this had contributed to the estimated total repair bill of £241,000 to return the pool to satisfactory condition. However, he thought the sum could be found in the long term and that the season of closure could 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.”

Councillors voted to meet again on July 1 for a progress report, with a view to BLL operating the pool from 2010 if this were financially possible.

Stephen Ardley, Waveney coun-cillor responsible for health and wellbeing, said later 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 added.

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

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