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Responses to proposed closure of Cresta Swimming Pool, Chard

Petition on 38 Degrees attracts over 1000 signatures

Chard resident Daniel Glentworth has set up a petition on 38degrees.org.uk to keep the pool open, which received more than 700 signatures in the first 12 hours. 

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Somerset ASA

Fiona Bowen, Secretary of Somerset Amateur Swimming Association, was informed on 12 July 2018 by the Secretary of Ilminster Swimming Club of the proposed closure of Cresta Swimming Pool at the end of the school summer holidays. She had heard via the internet which was a total shock as we believe there had been no communication with either Chard, Ilminster or Horton Swimming Clubs, all of whom use the facility.  All three clubs affiliate to Somerset ASA and have just under 350 affiliated members between them.  Chard & District Swimming Club are a competitive club representing Chard at County, Regional and National level and indeed produced Matthew Clay, a Commonwealth Gold medalist.  Whilst not competing at such a high level both Ilminster and Horton & District have a very dedicated team of volunteers who work hard to help children learn the essential life skill of swimming and then to continue to enjoy and develop their skills.  

With questions having to be submitted by noon on 13 July 2018 for a meeting regarding the closure of the pool. Fiona has emailed J Jackson (JAJackson@somerset.gov.uk) the following questions which she understands will be aired on 18 July. 
  1. We all understand that pools are costly to maintain and that the Cresta pool has possibly reached the end of its’ life but the Council have been aware that this is the case for a long period of time. Therefore why is the closure so sudden, giving clubs and other users very little time to make alternative arrangements?  This is exacerbated by the fact that the swimming clubs traditionally close for a period of time during school holidays so the timing could not have been worse.
  2. We would ask that the Council keep the pool open until proper consultation has taken place with the Clubs involved, Somerset ASA and Swim England South West and alternative arrangements have been made to ensure that the 350 swimmers in those clubs are able to continue swimming without a break.
  3. We would ask that the Council communicate regularly with the clubs, Somerset ASA and Swim England South West during the transitional period between the closure of Cresta Swimming Pool and the opening of the new pool
It is disappointing that communication with the local swimming community has been so poor in this matter.  Whilst many have probably expected the closure, what is shocking is the extremely short notice and the lack of support and consideration given to the swimmers and not least the hundreds of volunteers involved in the three local clubs who have worked tirelessly and with passion over many years to bring the skill and enjoyment of swimming to so many.  And of course producing a Commonwealth Gold medallist.
Swim England South West

David Flack, Chairman of Swim England South West has also expressed the Region's concerns relating to the proposed closure which clearly has the potential to threaten the existence of 3 local clubs who have provided a valuable service to the community for the past 40 years. On their behalf David has requested before any formal decision is made, for an open dialogue to include representatives from Swim England and the clubs, to discuss a planned and structured approach which will facilitate the Council's longer term objectives for developing the site under the Chard Regeneration Scheme.

Whilst noting and welcoming reports that Councillor Sylvia Seal from South Somerset District Council pledges  “We will do what we can to support groups and clubs to find temporary alternative venues in South Somerset" there is a need to explore other viable alternatives.

Yvonne Stead, Swim England South West Club Develoipment Officer is very keen to support all three clubs.

Ilminster SC and Horton & Broadway SC

Kim Scotting FIOS(CC), Swim England L3 Club Coach, Ilminster Swimming Club and Horton & Broadway Swimming Club says "The proposed 1610 swimming pool closure by the County Council to take effect in August is devastating news and equally distressing as no notice was given to either club despite having a combined membership of over 200 participating swimmers as well as the dedicated, nationally qualified, voluntary coaches and pool helpers who use this facility on a regular basis every week. The clubs give many the opportunity to acquire vital life skills as well as promoting good health and well-being for all participants.
Kim asks "Where are these clubs going to go now, with pool water time at a premium and in short supply, with the two centres mentioned or directed to already booked with little or no available hire time available to the Ilminster swimming clubs. The Chard re-generation programme will not happen overnight, meaning it could be several years before a pool may become a reality as part of the plan and be operational in the area again. And would it be available to the swimming clubs?"  

Kim has written to Sylvia Seal, Portfolio holder SSDC Leisure & Culture, (sylvia.seal@southsomerset.gov.uk), Ilminster's Mayor Julie Fowler (jmfitc@hotmail.com) and various local Councillors warning that "This could potentially spell an end of two local successful clubs, who have supported and hired water time (up to 10 hours plus per week) at CRESTA (Kingfisher Pool) since 1985. And both clubs have been in existence supporting the surrounding community for 40 years. Personally on behalf of the two clubs, I  would implore any help and support from our local and district councils in ensuring that the clubs remain operational and viable for the future."

Chard SC

Members of Chard Swimming Club already train at pools in Axminster (Flamingo Pool) and Crewkerne (Aqua Centre) because of demand - swimming is both a life-saving skill and popular pastime. The Club joined the Taunton swimming network to ensure a 'joined-up' approach to developing talent and keeping children fit, healthy and active.

Taunton Deane SC

Network hub club, Taunton Deane Swimming appreciates how difficult it is to run a club, even with the support of a decent pool operator, without the added stress of having to find an alternative. They hope that local councils learn to work with their stakeholders to ensure that this doesn’t happen again and that network partner Chard SC is successful in finding alternative pool time.

Local Councillors

Cllr Amanda Broom of Chard North Division (AJBroom@somerset.gov.uk) will be calling for the decision to be deferred to allow a full and proper public debate and commented: "I am amazed at how many people have responded in the short time they gave us - 48 hours & 26 minutes to be precise!. Whilst we won't have chance to debate at the meeting at 09:30 on 18 July outside County Hall, for anyone who can come, all questions will be read out if people attend."

Marcus Fysh MP for the Yeovil Constituency

From his website: "Your views are very important to me, whether they are similar to mine or not. If you would like to share your thoughts on any local or national issue, please contact me. I am always keen to support local projects across the constituency. If you would like me to attend an event, please don’t hesitate in contacting me. If you would like my help with an issue you may be having, please click on the Surgeries page."

1610 Active's Twitter Feed

Last (unrelated) tweet 2 May 2018.

Cresta Leisure Centre News Section

Last (unrelated) article 11 Jan 2018.

South Somerset Council - "Community gathers for Chard Refresh consultation" article 16 June 2018. [....Proposed facilities could include a swimming pool, café and studio space....]

A new swimming pool is part of bold plans for Chard as part of regeneration scheme. Residents are invited to give their...

Posted by Somerset ASA on Sunday, 17 June 2018


Ilminster Town Councillors

Last [unrelated] News Item 14 June 2018.

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