Sunday, 1 March 2009

Ipswich 'Not in the Swim'

The Tories with their Lib Dem lapdogs have decided they will not take up the Labour Govt offer of a grant towards fee swimming for our senior citizens and also to be included in the £140 million investment in swimming that will include the upgrading of local swimming pools.
The Tories state that the Ipswich Council tax player will be left to foot the bill, strange then that the other Tory led District Councils in Suffolk have all quickly joined the Govt scheme.
Free swimming will also soon be offered to Under 16’s- part of the 2012 Olympic legacy, this will also help with improving the health of all our population, but again in Ipswich our youngsters will not be included. So for our senior citizens it will be jump on a free bus (courtesy of a Labour Govt) to Felixstowe and there be able to have a free swim.
But this is only just one example of the portfolio holder for leisure in Ipswich being “out of her depth” pun defiantly implied!
We have had the promise of a further Heritage Grant for Holywells Park – not gained and all sort of other pie in the sky promises- Art Gallery outside Christchurch Mansion?
But it is the sport side that she does seem to (with her Tory colleagues) have no clear plan. They came into power promising to assist with the re-opening of the Broomhill Lido and then there was talk of a 50M pool on the Portman Road car park and away from swimming we are in line for an outdoor cycle velodrome- all I would say to you sports enthusiasts – don’t hold your breath!
All this came to me attention today as I opened one of my birthday presents, a book called “Great Lengths” by Dr Ian Gordon and Simon Inglis, it is one of a number of books from English Heritage in a series called ‘Played in Britain’. I am a bit of a sports heritage and sports stadia spotter so anything like this appeal’s to me. The beauty of these books is that they also show the link between sport and social history.

The new book is about indoor swimming pools and includes pages on both Fore Street swimming pool and St Matthews Pool (now a social club). I actually learnt to swim at Fore Street so it holds special memories for me and I would hate to see it close. But there should also be a balance between keeping old facilities open (because of sentimental reasons or because the building is listed) and offering sporting facilities to the whole population, and even then there you have another consideration to be looked at the facilities needed to produce top level athletes and the facilities needed for the general public. In swimming this is the argument between fun pools, 25/50M pools and open air lidos. Swimming again has the added factor of public safety and it should be an achievable target that by the age of 11 all children can at least swim 25M.
Coming back to Judy Terry and the Tories- we have no plan, it is time we had a joined up programme for the provision of swimming in Ipswich, the future of Broomhill, Fore Street and Crown Pools needs to be decided on once and for all. In my view Crown Street needs money spent on it urgently (pity we did not get put in for that Govt money!!) and Fore Street has a future, with its proximity to University Campus Suffolk, it should be able to increase its use and the future of Broomhill needs to be decided on, one way or the other. We can’t just leave it as it is, costing money on security and actually year by year with the indecision making it harder and far most costly to ever consider re-opening it.
Back to the book and reading about Fore street, one of the three Ipswich residents who put their financial backing into the opening of the pool was Felix Cobbold, a lifelong Liberal who thought that the baths should be classless, a pity our present day Liberals are more happy to support the Tories who would rather see private sports clubs- where high membership fees would be required.
For History buffs, Fore Street opened in 1894, St Matthews was open from 1922-1984, Pipers Vale open pool 1937-1979 and Broomhill was open from 1938-2002.
If you would wish to purchase the book, visit the ‘Played in Britain’ website here.


Sally Wainman said...

The corresponding book for open air pools and lidos is "Liquid Assets" by Janet Smith (published 2005 and also available from Played in Britain)

Broomhill Pool was one of the case studies in this book and also has a short mention on page 93 of Great Lengths under the Fore St Baths entry.

It's an incredible pity that Broomhill Pool has been left derelict now for nearly seven years. This was never really about a lack of money: when the Conservatives wanted £2 million for their Holywell Park HLF bid it was voted through without any fanfare at all to demonstrate 'commitment'. Worse still, the risk assessment for the Park bid signalled the Council's willingness to fund the whole £4 million project from council funds in the event of the HLF bid failing, which it did, of course.

Although the financial side of the lido is always stressed, it is minimal compared to the rising costs of obesity, Type II diabetes and other associated illnesses.

Investment in Broomhill would pay dividends in the long-term, in terms of preventative health benefits. If you are interested in examples of successful lidos Alasdair, then please contact me.

Alasdair Ross said...

I am a great supporter of all sports in Ipswich and actually showed the author of 'Great Lengths' Simon Inglis round the pool at Ipswich School.
I would love Broomhill to re-open, but what annoys me is that the Tories when elected said they would get it back as it was - and nothing has happened. While we wait the pool is costing money on security and keeping the framework intact and the longer we wait the more it will eventaully cost to open. all I want is Mrs Terry and the Tories to be honest- do they want it open or not?

Anonymous said...

Looks like it's up to (private) Ipswich School to deliver Ipswich's need of a new sporting venue. If it gets the green light that is......