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Open air pool campaign forge links

PUBLISHED: 17:05 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 07:16 01 August 2010

THE Friends of Beccles Open Air Swimming Pool (FoBOASP) say they have strengthened their partnership with Waveney District Council after what they describe as a constructive meeting with officers.

THE Friends of Beccles Open Air Swimming Pool (FoBOASP) say they have strengthened their partnership with Waveney District Council after what they describe as a constructive meeting with officers.

One of several outcomes of the talks is that the council has offered to run a free week-long training course for up to 16 volunteer lifeguards, who could then supplement the staff at the Puddingmoor pool.

The course is open to people over 16 years old and is ideal for young people participating in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme.

It is also open to older people, particularly those with a passion for swimming and an outdoor lifestyle.

Maureen Saunders, chairman of FoBOASP, said this week: “The free course would give volunteers a recognised qualification, employment possibilities and a valuable means of serving the local community.

“All we ask for in return is a commitment of a few hours a week at Beccles

open-air pool during the summer

season.”

Graham Elliott, district councillor for Beccles North, said one of the main costs of running the pool was staff.

“A team of fully-qualified volunteer lifeguards could have a significant impact on the viability of the pool by reducing costs and at the same time increase revenue by enabling more flexible opening hours,” he said.

“The closure at lunchtimes at weekends is only necessary due to staff constraints, as is the ability to open in the

evenings.

“Both of these could be overcome with fully-qualified volunteer lifeguards.”

Waveney leader Mark Bee said the council recognised the contribution that the outdoor pool made to the community's health and wellbeing, particularly in the absence of any other public swimming pool in the town.

“We are constantly reviewing practices in order to operate the pool in the most efficient way.

“The offer of 16 places on a pool lifeguard course is just one example of how the council and the FoBOASP can work together to achieve their aim: a sustainable swimming facility in Beccles,” he said.

“This seems a sensible step as the

long-term future of the pool remains undecided and a new site is yet to be finalised.”

The Friends organisation was formed in 2006, initially as an action group to campaign to save the pool.

More recently it has served as a fundraising organisation with a

proven goal to raise cash and invest

it in improving the pool.

As FoBOASP is committed to swimming in Beccles, it shares the community's desire for an indoor pool and better sports facilities in Beccles. But it also believes that there is a demand for a high-quality outdoor pool.

“The Friends' vision for the outdoor pool is for an attractive and financially-sustainable facility for local people and tourists alike,” Mr Elliott said.

“The pool has river frontage that is not utilised and has huge potential for becoming an important meeting place as well as a swimming pool.

“Local architect John Putman is preparing plans that would completely revamp the site, and we are seeking funding in order to implement this vision.”

Anyone interested in becoming a qualified lifeguard or finding out more should contact Maureen Saunders on 01502 714911.

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