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Savage cut puts town’s pool at risk
FUNDING for Ledbury swimming pool could be axed leaving its future hanging in the balance.
The subsidy from Herefordshire Council to the company which runs the pool looks certain to be stopped or reduced.
Eleventh-hour budget talks between the service provider, Halo Leisure, and the council are still ongoing.
Peter Watts, Herefordshire councillor for Ledbury, said the town may have to pull together to investigate other sources of funding.
Halo is one of several funded bodies that are now facing cuts in the financial year 2013/2014 as the county council looks to save money.
The council’s medium term financial strategy says: “What we are proposing – to stop or cut (options) – removal/reduction of the local government subsidy for Halo.”
In the last financial year, Halo received a council subsidy of about £1million to run nine leisure centres in the county, including Ledbury Swimming Pool.
Jon Argent, Halo’s chief executive, said: “No doubt the quality and breadth of the service is going to be reduced as a result of reduced financial support from Herefordshire Council.
“I hope we can keep Ledbury Swimming Pool open, but that is part of the discussions we are having with the local authority at the moment.
“As it stands, I would rule out closure.”
Peter Watts, who called and then cancelled a public meeting in January about the pool, said: “It was first mooted at a meeting between Herefordshire Council and Halo in December 2012 that there would be no finances for 2013/14 or less funding each year for the next few years to Halo.
“My personal thoughts are that Halo in the future will continue to run all nine leisure centres in Herefordshire without any financial help from the council.
“Once the negotiations and contracts and extended leases have all been sorted a clearer picture will emerge.
“I think we will have to do as Leominster did some years ago and provide their own complex, where the community came together and formed a task group to investigate and secure funding from other sources.
“If this community is prepared and ready, I am positive we can do the same, and it is my intention together with the backing of the Ledbury Town Council to set up such a task group in 2013.”