‘Show us the sums’ say swim club as row over new Halifax pool and leisure centre deepens

A swimming club who say dimensions of a new pool in Halifax will force them out of town are urging Calderdale council to show them the sums.

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 11:41 am
Halifax Synchronised Swimming Club members protesting about the new pool’s dimensions before September’s meeting of the full Calderdale Council

Having been told increasing the depth of the proposed new swimming pool at a new sports centre planned at Halifax, would add £2 million to the cost, Halifax Synchronised Swimming Club members claim they are being denied access to the figures behind the assertion.

In response, the council says the figures are not considered confidential and they will supply information.

Kirsty McGregor, who is a parent and volunteer at national champions in two age categories Halifax Synchronised Swimming Club, said the figures should be scrutinised.

“Councillors use broad brush statements to get political sway and headlines such as an extra metre of deep water will cost £2 million and 98 per cent of users will be able to use the new pool, but it’s easy to throw out numbers like that without anyone being able to scrutinise them.

“I have not been able to find out any details to substantiate any of these numbers and the council are refusing to give out this information, despite me trying through several different routes,” she said.

Ms McGregor says various methods she has tried to get the information include requests to senior officers and a Freedom of Information request she claims has been refused or ignored.

But a Calderdale Council spokesperson said they would provide the information.

“Throughout the plans for a new, state-of-the-art leisure centre and swimming pool for Halifax, we have followed a thorough process to ensure the facility brings the most benefit to the whole community and is financially viable amidst significant budget pressures, including carrying out a lengthy public consultation period and seeking independent, professional advice.

“We understand the disappointment of Ms McGregor and Halifax Synchronised Swimming Club regarding the proposed depth of the new pool, and we are happy to provide as much information as we can, as we do not consider the method of working out the figures to be confidential,” they said.

Before September’s meeting of the full Calderdale Council young swimmers from the club protested outside and urged the authority to “dig a little deeper – and save our pool.”

The new £24 million pool will be part of a new leisure centre built on the site of the existing one at North Bridge.

It will replace the now closed Halifax Swimming Pool – the council said this had become uneconomic to repair – but the club say it is not deep enough for swimmers to use without risking injury.

Lead coach Charlotte Hughes said issues were with the new pool’s depth – two metres at the most, whereas the closed pool had a 3.8 metre depth.