Pool will stay open until June

Hindley Swimming Pool, Borsdane Avenue, Hindley

Hindley Swimming Pool, Borsdane Avenue, Hindley

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AN AXE-THREATENED Wigan swimming pool has won a further six months’ reprieve.

Wigan’s ruling cabinet confirmed that Hindley Baths will remain open until June 2012 to allow its popularity to be monitored.

Town hall chiefs must make £66m savings over the next three years and were considering changing management of both Hindley and Tyldesley Pools to save an estimated £400,000 per year.

Earlier this year they agreed to a comprehensive consultation exercise with users, exploring options for the future operation of the pools, which included the possibility of them being taken over by outside groups or organisations.

They asked for expressions of interest from groups keen to take over the pools and there have been campaigns to keep both facilities open.

More than 970 completed questionnaires were returned by residents, along with 497 letters and emails, while a total of 160 people attended two consultation public meetings

Officers have now recommended keeping Hindley Pool open for a minimum of six months, under reduced opening hours while work continues to try to secure its future.

During this period the council and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust will investigate further ways to keep the facility going, including the potential for the management of the pool to be taken over by a third party, re-allocating budgets or using volunteers.

Pressure group ‘Save Our Swimming’ (SOS) have been challenging council bosses over the usage figures at the pool.

It was also revealed at the Cabinet meeting of Wigan Council that an un-named Hindley Primary School had been bidding to take over the running of the pool, before pulling out in the final stages.

Cabinet member for Leisure and Culture Coun Chris Ready said that taking decisions that will close community facilities wasn’t something they wanted to do or that he felt he was elected to do.

But he told the meeting at Leigh Sports Village: “I am delighted that we appear to have a workable solution for Tyldesley and we are working towards a solution for Hindley to help us to keep the pools open. Unlike other authorities were are not prepared to just close these type of facilities, but always look for alternatives, although that is in no way the easiest of options.

“I am proud to say that we do things differently in Wigan and that, I hope, will always be the case.”

He now hopes to broker meetings between supporters of both pools in the hope that they can work together to ensure the long term future of both. Tyldesley pool will be transferred to a local organisation to manage the facility to enable it to remain open.