Campaigners believe council has 'no intention' of reopening Kenilworth's outdoor pool - but have vowed to continue fighting for the lido

They have responded to the decision by Warwick District Council to prioritise indoor swimming lessons while the decision whether to reopen the outdoor pool at Abbey Fields remains under review

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 3:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 3:58 pm
The outdoor swimming pool at Abbey Fields in Kenilworth remains closed until further notice but campaigners a want it to be reopened in what could be the last season of its existence.

Campaigners who want to keep outdoor swimming in Kenilworth open to the public have said they believe Warwick District Council (WDC) has "no intention" of opening the town's lido this summer in what could be the last season of its existence.

Members of the Kenilworth Lido Campaign Group want the outdoor pool to reopen once lockdown restrictions are lifted but the authority is currently reviewing whether or not to do this .

The council is proposing to close the pool and replace it with a second indoor pool at Abbey Fields which would be open all year round but campaigners have fought long and hard for this plan to be scrapped and instead for the existing lido, which would normally be open from the last weekend in May until September, to be improved.

In a recent update on the situation, the council has said: "Following the government’s announcement that the current Covid-19 restrictions are to remain in place {until July 19 at the earliest], Warwick District Council has instructed Everyone Active to prioritise their swimming lesson programme at Abbey Fields in response to a surge in demand."

Warwick District Council’s portfolio holder for culture, tourism and leisure Cllr Liam Bartlett added: “Although the case for reopening the outdoor pool is still under review, our efforts need to focus on making our pools safe and accessible for as many ‘learn to swim’ sessions as possible, with so many local children missing out on this life skill during the lockdowns.”

“In the case of Kenilworth, this will mean keeping the outdoor pool closed, so that we can concentrate our staff time and resources on giving lessons and ensuring that all social distancing protocols required by Swim England remain in place.”

In response campaign group spokesman Martin Seaton said: "The announcement by the council does not really tell us anything we did not already know and comes as no surprise.

"It is absolutely clear to us, despite what we are being told to the contrary, WDC has absolutely no intention of opening the outdoor pool this summer as people will realise what a wonderful facility it is and this would lead to more outcry against the decision to close it permanently.

"Instead, WDC is using the Government announcement as a further reason not to act and will continue to do so, until it is too late to open the pool this season.

"The Campaign Group points out that outdoor pools across the country, including those managed by Everyone Active have been open for a while now following the Government’s earlier lifting of COVID restrictions on March 29.

"Furthermore, WDC tells us that all staff resources are being directed towards swimming lessons.

"Whilst we would not disagree with the sentiment, a cursory glance at the booking availability on Everyone Active’s website would suggest that it is certainly not running at full capacity yet.

"Despite providing the contractor Everyone Active with additional funds to maintain all the leisure facilities in the district, it is clear that the both the outdoor and indoor pool at Abbey Fields are being deliberately and systematically allowed to go to rack and ruin, save some minor redecoration work inside.

"Indeed, if Swim England, who WDC say they are taking advice from regarding operating during the pandemic, could see the conditions the public have to face daily at the site, we believe they would be appalled.

"How long are the public expected to put up with this, given that the last planning application for the proposed replacement was hastily withdrawn due to the massive level of objections and a follow up is nowhere in sight?

"The Lido Campaign Group has consistently tried to engage with WDC, produced a viable roadmap showing how the outdoor pool could be operated safely and offered volunteer support it has rallied from the wider community to ready the pool for opening, but has been routinely ignored all along.

"However, we are determined to fight on for the restoration of safe outdoor swimming in Kenilworth."