Protest planned against Halifax swimming pool plans with aquatic sports club's future in jeopardy

A protest will take place this evening in Halifax against plans to shelve the town’s facilities for diving and synchronised swimming.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 1:38 pm
Artist impression of the new Halifax swimming pool and leisure centre

The 50-year-old pool has never re-opened after the pandemic, as it needs a refurbishment costing some £600,000.

Instead, Calderdale Council plan to build a new leisure centre at North Bridge, but campaigners have warned that the proposed pool won’t be sufficient for the town’s aquatic clubs to train in as it won’t have diving facilities and isn’t deep enough for synchronised swimming.

A motion calling on the council to rethink their plans to permanently close the new pool will be voted on this evening.

Liberal Democrat Coun Sue Holdsworth, who has proposed the motion, told the Yorkshire Post that Halifax’s synchronised swimming club has lost some 40 members as their parents and carers can’t take them to train at Todmorden, where the club is currently meeting.

She said: “It’s just inadequate because we do want to encourage elite swimmers. Elite swimmers are not elite in the sense that it costs an enormous amount of money, like show-jumping. It’s for everyone.

“My personal view is that I would prefer the old pool to be refurbished. It’s a very interesting architectural example of 1960s brutalism and inside they have a fabulous tiled mosaic, which is worth preserving.

“But if the council are so minded to build a new facility, the pool should be like-for-like and have turning blocks, sufficient depth for water polo and all the aquatic sports.

“If something has to go, I suggest it should be the cafe. There’s loads of cafes around Central Halifax.”

The protest, before Wednesday's full council meeting, will see members of the synchronised swimming club approach councillors to support the motion.

Campaigners estimate 22,678 hours of swimming will be lost in the town if the North Bridge plans go ahead.

A report from Swim England earlier this week predicts that by 2030, on current trends, the number of pools will have dropped from 4,336 to around 2,468 – a fall of 40 per cent.

It also estimates that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of local authorities in England have a deficit of at least one average-sized pool.

Swim England has called on councils to conduct an analysis of its pool stock to understand if it has the right pools in the right place to meet the needs of the community.

Calderdale Council were approached for comment.