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'We want our Fowey swimming pool back'

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: February 06, 2014

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CAMPAIGN:  Sinead Hanks beside the derelict pool.

CAMPAIGN: Sinead Hanks beside the derelict pool.

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A MUM is starting a campaign to reopen a community swimming pool in Fowey.

Sinead Hanks says she wants to preserve the swimming pool, which sits on school land behind Fowey Community College, for "future generations".

She is among hundreds in the town who have signalled their desire to have the pool reopened.

The open-air swimming pool has been in disrepair for more than four years and is in such a sorry state that ducks have even been spotted taking up the watery shallows as their temporary home.

But the college has said it will cost approximately £250,000 to repair, modernise and open the pool, currently owned by Cornwall Council.

The cost does not include running the pool or the associated staffing costs.

Ms Hanks, 44, said she and hundreds of residents support the reinstatement of the swimming pool.

The Facebook page Do You Want A Swimming Pool Back in Fowey garnered more than 200 named supporters in just 48 hours.

Her hope is to raise the money to repair and run the pool, with the help of the community, grants and without the school footing the bill, which in other parts of the county, such as Camelford, has already been achieved.

However, she feels her approaches to the school and governors about the estimated running and repair costs of the pool have left her treading water.

She said: "I don't feel they have been forthcoming. They seem to have all the excuses.

"Swimming is an essential skill, evermore so for those living on the coast. Many of us in Fowey who learnt to swim at Fowey School feel very strongly that we owe it to our children to attempt to save the pool.

"Although I learnt to swim there, as did my friends, my five-year-old daughter is learning to swim in Bodmin, ten miles away."

John Perry, head teacher, said the school, which is awaiting confirmation from the Department for Education (DfE) to convert to a sponsored academy, does not have the cash to reopen the pool.

Instead its governors have told Ms Hanks that they have been advised by Cornwall Council to fill in the pool.

Mr Perry said problems first arose when a crack appeared in the swimming pool, which saw the school's water bill soar to £2,000 a month. He said that in addition to the damage, changes to lifeguard rotas make it impossible to use the swimming pool as a teaching resource.

"We were not able to use the pool and it effectively fell into disrepair. We need to spend that money on books and resources," he said.

He said he was unaware of the public's interest but that the pool is unattractive and would need to be covered to allow it to be viable and be used all year round.

"I think every town should have a good swimming pool but I don't think this is a good swimming pool. It's small, it's stuck at the back of the school, it's unheated and uncovered," said Mr Perry.

Alan Shakerley, chairman of the governors, said: "The governors took the decision to close the pool for a combination of health and safety and financial reasons, and we are not in a position to reconsider this decision at the current time."

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