Last chance to save Kenilworth's outdoor pool falls through at meeting

A final chance to save Kenlilworth’s outdoor pool from closure came to nothing after a motion asking councillors to rethink the decision was rejected.

Thursday, 24th January 2019, 9:00 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:45 pm
Warwick District Council voted to back the executive's decision to close the outdoor pool and replace it with an indoor training pool

Warwick District Council’s executive controversially voted to close the outdoor pool in Abbey Fields and replace it with an indoor training pool at a meeting on Wednesday January 9.

Campaigners ‘Restore Kenilworth Lido’ had hoped the council would consider building a larger 25m lido in place of the old outdoor pool.

The executive’s decision was challenged by Cllr Alan Boad (Lib Dem, Crown), who put forward an urgent motion calling on the executive to 'pause' and have a ‘full and transparent evaluation of the potential for an outdoor swimming pool facility at Abbey Fields.’

But at a full council meeting on Wednesday January 23, the motion was rejected and the original decision to close the pool will stand.

Introducing the motion, Cllr Boad said the public consultation on the council’s plans was ‘ignored’.

He added: “We’re looking at a once in 50-year opportunity to offer flexibility in facilities in Warwick district. There’s plenty of opportunity for indoor swimming but none for outdoor.

“Let’s just have a look and make sure this decision is the right one.”

But Cllr Peter Whiting (Con, Arden), a member of the executive who originally voted to close the pool, said a lido would not generate enough money in a tough economic climate for the council.

He said: “We need to grab every additional pound of income that we possibly can.”

Cllr Pat Cain (Con, St John’s) said the consultation was done fairly, and felt the indoor pool would benefit more people.

She said: “Let us decide that the needs of the many outweigh the wishes of the few.”

And Cllr Alan Rhead (Con, Budbrooke), another executive member, claimed the motion was nothing more than a political stunt ahead of the elections in May.

He said: “This is a political attempt to pander to a vocal minority who represent less than one per cent of the population in Kenilworth.”

Cllr Rhead was heckled by a member of the public who shouted “shame on you” after he said this.

But Cllr Kirstie Naimo (Lab, Brunswick) said: “This shouldn’t be a political decision. This is about listening to the public.”

After the debate, the vote on Cllr Boad’s motion was defeated by 27 votes to 11, with four abstentions. All Conservative councillors present voted against.

The decision comes after a similar motion calling on Kenilworth Town Council to ask the district council to rethink the pool’s closure was thrown out at a meeting on Thursday January 17.

November’s consultation on the plans saw 41 per cent of respondents preferring to keep the outdoor pool as it is, with 32 per cent preferring an indoor pool and the rest having no preference.

A quarter also said they would like a new 25m lido, despite it not being an official option on the consultation.