Croydon Council is to close Purley Pool in a cost-cutting exercise aimed at avoiding having to spend at least £780,000 on urgently required repairs and renovations to the much-neglected swimming facility.
Purley’s swimming pools’ fate was sealed once the council opted to build another pool and fitness facility at Waddon, as part of the financially disastrous CCURV urban regeneration scheme undertaken by the previous Tory-run council with John Laing.
The Waddon Leisure Centre was given a green-light when Mike #WadGate Fisher’s Conservatives wanted to lure voters in the local ward with the enticement of the £15million new facility. That strategy failed – to the obvious discomfort of one out-going Tory councillor – and with Purley being in the true-blue Conservative south of the borough, while Waddon is now held by Labour, the decision to close the pool will doubtless be seized upon by some – ie. the Tories – as politically motivated.
But the pool closure is just one of a string of tough spending decisions facing Croydon and every other local authority in the country as a result of the Tory Chancellor, Gideon Osborne, passing his austerity policies down to Town Halls. Croydon Council published its Budget papers today – see the main report in pdf format here Budget Report 2015-2016 – which attempts to deal with the £100 million funding gap inherited from the previous administration.
The Budget report talks of a “transformation of council services”. For the hard-pressed council staff, who have mostly seen their working terms reduced, this will be at least the second – or is it the third? – “transformation” that they will have had to implement, while hoping not to lose their jobs altogether. For residents, “transformation of council services” has become standard council obfuscation for “scrapped”.
The Purley centre’s gym and other fitness facilities will remain open and be expanded, “which is very important”, according to one Town Hall source. But the Save Purley Pool Campaign, which has been active in the past when closure plans were mooted, will doubtless to get active between now and the proposed closure date in April.
Built in the 1970s in a deal which saw Sainsbury’s open a town centre supermarket (which has long since closed), local campaigners claim that 250,000 people use Purley Pool each year, and it is used by 11 schools for their swimming lessons.
Given the presence of Waddon and also the private pool at Whitgift School – which was built with the assistance of Lottery funding on an initial understanding of some element of public use – it becomes hard to make an argument to maintain the facility if, in common with many pools built around that time, it now requires substantial and regular work.
The leisure centre is operated by Fusion Lifestyle. Reduced operation will see savings made by the council on that management contract, also.
Nathan Elvery, the council CEO, has called the decision to close Purley Pool as “a pragmatic solution”.
According to our Town Hall mole, the closure of the “wet side” of the Purley Leisure Centre had also been planned by the previous Conservative administration. So it appears to be yet more evidence of the “continuity” offered at the council by keeping Elvery on as CEO, with the Labour-run council implementing Tory policies.
Coming to Croydon
- Mayor of Croydon’s charity Christmas dinner, Dec 12
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- Concert of Christmas music, St Luke’s, Woodside, Dec 13
- Opera Soiree at Whitgift School, Dec 14
- Friends of the Earth Green Beanfeast, Dec 15 (book by Dec 1)
- Croydon Philharmonic Christmas concert, St Matthew’s, Dec 16
- Spread Eagle’s Christmas Improv show, Dec 17
- David Lean Cinema, Northern Soul, Dec 18
- David Lean Cinema, Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief, Dec 29
- David Lean Cinema, The Beat Beneath My Feet, Dec 30
- Norwood Society talk: Penge, the making of a suburb, Jan 15
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
- Norwood Society talk: Crystal Palace and Dulwich, Feb 19
- Norwood Society talk: Charlies Dickens in Norwood, Mar 19
- Norwood Society: Balloons and airships at Crystal Palace, Apr 16
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