Transfer of ownership in 'best interests' of closed borough baths

Trust chairman Jim Ellis outside Hindley Community Pool, which he says has become a vibrant pool
Trust chairman Jim Ellis outside Hindley Community Pool, which he says has become a vibrant pool

The chairman of a borough swimming pool has spoken out about its sudden closure.

Hindley Community Pool shut on Tuesday and staff were told it would no longer be run by community group Hindley Phoenix.

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Wigan Council has announced it will take it over “to keep the facility open and enhance its services”.

The plan is for the centre to be operated by another company and discussions are taking place.

But nothing has been formally confirmed and the premises will remain closed in the meantime.

Posts on social media say staff were made redundant.

Hindley Phoenix had run the pool since 2013 after taking it over from the cash-strapped council under the auspices of The Deal.

Coun David Molyneux, council leader, said: “Our thanks and appreciation goes to the trustees of the pool who have maintained it for the last five years. The community group has put in a lot of their own time to keep the facility running and managed it in challenging economic times.

“We are all in agreement that the priority is the continued operation of the pool and its future as a much-loved community facility.

“We are now aware that a certain amount of work is needed to improve the facilities at the pool and investment is required.”

Earlier this year trustees were forced to defend public accusations that the pool had been “cold” and “dirty”.

Chairman Jim Ellis said the pool had “undergone a transformation from the disgraceful building” they took over and was now “a vibrant pool”.

He said it was done without council funding, apart from a contribution towards an inflatable, and he previously said he had invested “tens of thousands of pounds” of his own money in the centre.

Mr Ellis continued: “Sadly, since my wife died in November, I no longer feel able to carry on in this very demanding role and have had to look at securing the long-term future of the pool.

“I approached the council for funding to extend the facilities at the pool in order to increase sources of income, but instead the council offered to take the pool under their wing once more, giving an undertaking to keep all existing staff.

“As the pool will now have access to the same level of funding as invested in other leisure facilities in the borough, it became obvious that this route was in the best interests of the long-term future of Hindley Community Pool and the residents of Hindley.

“I will miss my involvement with the pool very much but can step down in the knowledge that my actions six years ago provided employment for 14 staff, saved the pool for the community and that I have now secured its long-term future.”

The council said the company running the pool must now be formally closed down and the lease forfeited to the council.

The pool will be shut while a new operator is obtained.

The closure came as a shock to those using the pool.

Lisa Morris, from Abram, had paid in advance for swimming lessons for her seven-year-old son.

She has already enquired about lessons at another pool, but would prefer to keep using Hindley baths, where she also swam as a child.

Mrs Morris said: “People have lost their jobs and obviously I am more empathetic to that than the fact I have lost about £25, but there will be parents who have three or four children there. I think everybody just wants to know what’s going on.”