Purley Pool to close as council Budget cuts begin to bite

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 Pool: under constant threat of redevelopment

Purley Pool: under constant threat of redevelopment

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.

Of course, if the Purley pool and leisure centre site were a school playing field, by now it will have been assessed for sale to multi-millionaire house builders for redevelopment.

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.


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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Croydon Council, Croydon South, Fusion, Leisure services, Nathan Elvery, Planning, Property, Purley, Purley Pool, Sport, Swimming and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Purley Pool to close as council Budget cuts begin to bite

  1. sed30 says:

    Reblogged this on sed30's Blog and commented:
    Just the tip of the iceberg???

    Like

  2. The plan was to keep Purley Leisure Centre open until new centres were developed at Waddon and one on the Lion Green Road car park in Coulsdon. As usual, the council was gilding the lilly; Waddon materialised, Coulsdon fell through. But Purley has to go. The only surprise to me is that they’re keeping open the grotty, semi subterranean gym

    Like

  3. If one cannot do anything right just blame the Tories. Labour did such a fantastic job with the economy that we are paying billions in interest.

    Where is the promised free school meals for all children( I am still paying for my children)?
    What happened to the funds for Saturday schools which the Tories cut?
    What is happening to the family justice centre?
    What is happening to our playing fields?(Oops sorry deleted. I never said it. It’s my officers)

    Just blame the Tories all issues can be resolved. Once again just blame the Tories for December being so dark in the evenings.

    Like

  4. baw30s says:

    I can’t help thinking that Tony Newman would have thought twice if the pool were in a marginal ward.
    Local residents are suggesting that sufficient repairs to keep the pool going could be made for only £50,000, so perhaps again for one reason or another (“modern standards”?) the Council cannot see its way to providing the service with reasonable economy.
    Surely if we weren’t wasting £100 million on ugly, dazzling new street lights we would have the funds for smaller projects like this. With the obesity “epidemic” in the borough, we need local swimming pools.

    Like

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