The future of Purley Pool and leisure centre has been guaranteed for the next four years, following a meeting on Tuesday night between the local campaign group, the leader of Croydon Council and the contractors, Fusion.
Fred Wallis, of the Save Purley Pool Campaign, met Councillors Mike Fisher, Donald Speakman and Badsha Quadir at the pool on Tuesday evening to discuss the centre’s future.
After what was described as a “friendly” meeting, SPPC in a statement this afternoon says, “The good news is that Councillor Fisher … gave us an assurance that the pool would remain open for the next four years and we felt that the assurance was made in the best of faith.”
Also attending the meeting was Wendy Smith, of Fusion, the contractors who run the venue for Croydon Leisure, allowing for discussions to cover aspects of pool management such as cleaning and low-level maintenance.
Although the facility is less than 30 years old, Purley Pool has been under constant threat of redevelopment ever since the neighbouring Sainsbury’s supermarket closed down more than a decade ago.
Numerous Council spokesmen have argued that the facility is too expensive to maintain, while apparently eyeing the lucrative prime site real estate for development schemes including hundreds of flats, but no pool. The Council originally scheduled Purley Pool for closure by October 2008.
Residents throughout the south of the borough feared that, just as with the multi-million pound redevelopment at Purley Way in the 1990s that saw the leisure centre and pool there bulldozed, never to be replaced, the same fate awaited Purley.
Purley Pool appeared to be friend-less on Croydon Council. As recently as April, one senior Tory Councillor on the planning committee said, “Purley pool and gym is a wreck that needs too much money spending on it to preserve it for more than a couple of years”.
Ahead of the Waddon ward byelection last year, the Council had said Purley Pool could stay open only until 2012.
But following the latest meeting with the Save Purley Pool Campaign, it seems that Councillor Fisher has performed a second policy U-turn of the week.
The important four-year undertaking for Purley Pool seems particularly generous since by 2014, the Council has promised the south of Croydon will have two new pools and leisure centres operating, one at Coulsdon and the other at Waddon, where work on the £7 million scheme on the former Red Posts School and Propellor pub site at Fiveways began last month.
Save Purley Pool Campaign’s goal is to keep a public pool in Purley, an aim which has been supported by Labour parliamentary candidates in Croydon South, though not by the sitting MP, Richard Ottaway, who has distanced himself from the issue, which he has said is a matter for Croydon Council.