Chiswick New Pool
on the dispute between residents and the Hounslow council on the
future of the pool.
(last updated 20 Jan 2000)
Formerly an open air lido, Chiswick New Pool was converted into an indoor facility in 1991. Its attractive location and bright interior made it a popular place for the local community. Although not as well equipped as the gigantic Brentford Leisure Centre, its smaller scale makes it a much more relaxed place to visit. It is widely used by schools in the area.
The pool’s floor was not sealed properly in construction. The contractor went bankrupt before the council could sue and even an insurance claim does not seem possible. This defect has inflated annual maintenance costs, although the cost of permanent repairs may not be high in relation to the capital value of the facility.
The impact of these higher costs is compounded by poor revenue. Campaigners say that the pool's services were badly conceived at the outset and are poorly marketed now. The pool lacks sufficient “dry-side” facilities such as a large café or a gym which could draw additional revenue.
As a result, the council has to subsidise the pool on an ongoing basis (to the tune of some £174,000 per annum). It is this subsidy that the council is trying to eliminate from its expenditure by looking for a public/private partnership to increase the revenue from the facility. Local residents are concerned that under such a scheme public access would be limited and prices would rise. Chiswick Community Pool campaigners argue that the council should be willing to continue the subsidy, as the pool is a vital local facility. They also have suggestions for improving the income and expenditure account of the facility without bringing in private sector partners.
Some people feel that
the Labour-controlled Hounslow council may be less protective to the Chiswick Pool
because it lies in Tory voting areas. Hounslow has five public swimming pools
and only the Chiswick Pool is under threat.
The pool may become an issue in the mayoral election with Ken Livingstone, Glenda Jackson and Steve Norris all coming out strongly in favour of Chiswick Pool. Leading Labour candidate Frank Dobson has yet to voice an opinion on the issue although his campaign is being organised by local MP Ann Keen.
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New Chiswick Pool
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