MORE than 6,000 residents have signed a petition urging Woking Borough Council to reconsider the proposed closure of Pool in the Park.
The support has been gathered in little more than a week.
The phased closure of Pool in the Park over three years, beginning with the Leisure Lagoon, is one of the headline casualties in the programme of cuts presented by Woking Borough Council’s ruling Liberal Democrats to tackle the severe financial challenges facing the council.
Woking MP Jonathan Lord said: “This is one of the biggest grassroots campaigns I have ever seen since becoming your Member of Parliament.
“Like the tens of thousands of other pool users, I have visited and used Pool in the Park countless times – including teaching my daughter to swim there.
“I have been meeting and discussing what Pool in the Park means to so many residents and different community groups in Woking and our villages.
“This facility is so much more than a pool, it is a place for people to learn to swim, to rehabilitate from injuries, to maintain health and wellbeing, to socialise and for families to have fun together.
“For those taking a keen interest in the details there’s a lot of concern about the annual subsidy figure the council has suggested with regard to the pool. The council report states that ‘Pool in the Park specifically amounts to £700k of the subsidy [for leisure], a large amount of this is capital depreciation and the rest is the significant cost of utilities such an ageing building requires’.
“I am not an accountant, but as I understand it, capital depreciation does not represent a real cash saving.
“The Cambridge Dictionary defines capital depreciation as ‘a decrease in the value of an asset’ but presumably such an asset decreases in value over time at much the same rate whether the facility is open or closed.
“Moreover, within three months of the council closing Pool in the Park, the council itself would be liable for £138,000 in business rates. I am working with the Conservative councillors at Woking Borough Council to uncover what the actual true cash subsidy to the pool is, so we can then look at possible alternative proposals accordingly.
“Residents have also asked about the likely cost of future repairs at Pool in the Park.
“In recent years the facility has already benefited from £3.1 million in refurbishment and repairs. Government funding is potentially available for such repairs and maintenance costs, so I urge the council to apply to the government’s Swimming Pool Support Fund for appropriate support – the current round for bids closes on October 17.
“Residents need to be assured councillors have all the information at hand when making decisions and these facts should also be shared with those who are campaigning to save the pool.
“If you haven’t already done so, please do consider joining the Facebook campaign group at www.facebook.com/groups/savethepoolinthepark to encourage the council to rethink their proposed closure.”