Purley Pool remains shut despite £1m grant to council

Making a splash: some of the socially distanced Purley Pool protesters yesterday

Croydon Council has received nearly £1million of government covid cash from a fund to ensure local sports and leisure facilities can reopen safely after the coronavirus lockdown – but the authority has done nothing to open the doors of Purley Leisure Centre, which have been firmly locked shut since March 2020.

The Save Purley Pool Campaign, backed by local schools, business and sports clubs, staged a protest outside the council-owned facility yesterday.

Despite other leisure centres across the borough reopening as lockdown restrictions are eased, Purley Leisure Centre, which has a 25-metre public pool and a gym that was refurbished only months before the first national lockdown, remains shut and with no reopening date announced.

“There is growing frustration at the lack of interest and engagement from Croydon Council despite their assurances they would work with the community regarding Purley Leisure Centre,” said campaigner Richard Willmer.

“Poor finances are not an excuse to keep it shut,” said Rachel Thompson, from Save Purley Pool said.

“Our Freedom Of Information request revealed that the council has received £924,000 in funding from the National Leisure Centre Recovery Fund which specifically aims ‘to assist the reopening and recovery of leisure services’.

“Why is none of this money coming Purley Leisure Centre’s way?”

Save Purley Pool say that they have been “inundated with messages” from organisations and residents about the adverse effects the closure of the centre is having on their lives and health. A petition calling on the council to reopen the centre has more than 2,500 signatures.

Primary-aged children are supposed to be taught how to swim under the National Curriculum and to be able to swim at least 25 metres before they start at their secondary schools. But the schools which would normally use Purley Pool have not been able to carry out any swimming lessons for 14 months now, and may not be able to offer any swimming lessons before the end of this school year.

Primary schools in the southern part of the borough have been unable to provide swim lessons for 14 months

St Aidan’s Primary in Coulsdon, whose Year 6 pupils actively campaigned to save Purley Leisure Centre, have highlighted the difficulty of using the next nearest pool to their school. Waddon Leisure Centre is a two-hour round trip via the congested Purley Way.

Teacher Collette Luke said, “Travelling with classes of primary school-aged children to Waddon Leisure Centre carries so many safeguarding issues. The 289 bus is a single deck vehicle so pupils would have to stand for most of the journey to Purley Way.

“Crossing the road at the busy and congested Fiveways Junction with a whole class is just too dangerous for us to consider.”

Opportunities to exercise for people with disabilities and those with mobility problems are also greatly affected if Purley Pool fails to reopen.

Enterprise Swimming Club, which has provided support for decades at Purley for those with a wide range of disabilities. One club official said, “We have already established that no other Croydon public pool has a suitable vacancy that we could use. Our primary concern is to be able to continue our important work of providing structured swimming sessions for disabled people.”

The campaigners maintain that Purley is the most viable place in the south of the borough for a leisure centre because of its position and accessibility by public transport.

Figures by Sport England show that sport and physical activity contributes £16billion to the national economy.

Given how well-used Purley Leisure Centre has been, its closure is also of huge concern to local business. Simon Cripps, the chief executive of Purley BID, said, “Purley Leisure Centre is a fantastic asset, it increases footfall to local business and its beneficial impact on the local economy is considerable.

“Let’s get it reopened.”

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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
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4 Responses to Purley Pool remains shut despite £1m grant to council

  1. Ian Kierans says:

    It would be good to know from the Council their intent and to point out to Councillors in all wards this will be an election issue next year. Many of us myself included have taken our children and ourselves to that pool over the years and we would like new families in the center, east and north to also have that opportunity. Waddon and Thornton Heath are problematical With New Addington not much better and South Norwood just too far for anyone on the South of the Borough. Labour Councillors (and Tory) and the Council should not make childrens exercise and amenity a party political issue and should remember that they represent the whole Borough. I would also suggest that if ever this Council manages to get back in credit it should also strongly think of a 6th Pool as our population needs it

  2. J Hunt says:

    The council get thousands of pounds from developers putting up hundreds of flats in the Purley area to go towards extra classrooms , leisure facilities, doctors etc. but the money always goes somewhere else.When a block of 9 flats is built it normally means an extra 15 people as well as an extra £15000 pound in council tax.
    Turning the lights out on the outside of the leisure centre could save a bit of money

  3. Lewis White says:

    As J Hunt notes in the comment above, hundreds of flats — and houses— have been built in the Purley / Kenley / Coulsdon area in the last few years, and many more are going to happen.
    The amount of money generated for the Council in new council tax and in Commiunity Infrastructure Levy is massive.

    Purley is the focal point where all the valleys and all public transport routes meet.

    To starve the people of this huge area of the use of the Council leisure centre and the pool facility is plain wrong.

  4. Doug says:

    When the pool was open I used to visit Purley most days and spend money in the shops now I tend to go the Purley once a fortnight. The Waddon centre is 2 buses from where I live in Kenley and I suspect that many people in the south of the borough are in the same position.

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