|Northgate;-Site of the Demolished Splash. Bridgwater Forward;-Ian Tucker collecting signatures for the petition|
On Wednesday 10th November Sedgemoor District Councillors received a 1,875 name petition from Bridgwater Forward, asking for the plans for an out of town pool at Chilton Trinity to be abandoned and more work to be done looking at the Northgate site.
The petition was presented by Bridgwater bus driver Ian Tucker and it said “We the undersigned agree with Bridgwater Forward that Bridgwater needs and deserves town centre swimming facilities. We call upon Sedgemoor District Council to abandon plans for a pool at Chilton Trinity School and instead carry out a full public consultation, as promised, over the development of the Northgate site as a pool and leisure site”
Under new legislation, the petitioner had three minutes to present their petition and then only a maximum of 15 minutes was allowed for Councillors debate.
|Cllr McGinty;- Town centre "not that bad"|
After the debate Ian Tucker said "Unsurprisingly we were not successful. Labour and Lib Dems voted for further investigation but I every Tory voted against ."
Cllr Duncan McGinty gave the protestors a history lesson before the 15minute debate started saying
"Taking away the emotion surrounding the pool and in the very harsh light of day, the only objective, practical and affordable solution that we reached in order to ensure swimming continues in the future in and around Bridgwater was:-
1. Close The Splash and ring fence the saving of £400,000 a year towards a new pool, located next to Chilton Trinity School in Chilton Street, Bridgwater
2 Commit £1.5 million towards the new pool infrastructure and to pay for design fees to show our commitment to provide a new pool
3 Put in place a multi-stranded funding plan to make sure that when the time comes we have enough money to finance for the new pool.
|Cllr Pearce "Funding can be found"|
Building of the main part of the new school at the Chilton Trinity has already started. Preliminary works that will allow the pool to be built alongside the school and leisure centre are included in that building work. Detailed contracts for the pool element are expected to be signed very soon. It is planned that the pool will be open in late 2012."
Cllr Kathy Pearce (Labour, Bridgwater Hamp) said- " Funding could be found for town centre swimming. and building a pool at Chilton would give no value for money .The council should look to other partners for funding. This petition has gained 1875 responses from the Bridgwater area alone, more than the council had achieved with their recent budget consultation from across the whole of Sedgemoor. This, together with the 7,000 signatures gained in previous consultations, should prompt the council to review their previous decision".
Cllr David Preece (Conservative, Bridgwater Bower) said- "I have yet to see any letter from EDF where they said they would build us a pool!"
|Cllr Taylor "What are we doing!?"|
Cllr Julian Taylor (Labour, Bridgwater Eastover)- said "The letter from EDF of July 2009 referred to them being willing to discuss funding. The Chief Executive has already commented that this £1m from EDF is not enough especially as Hinkley was costing £38b. Where is the council's development and leisure strategy What are we doing?"
Cllr Gill Slocombe (Conservative, Bridgwater Quantock)- said "... isn't it sad that we are arguing about a state of the art swimming pool. We now have one which is to be built at Chilton Trinity put our energy into that."
|Cllr Smedley "No consultation!"|
Cllr Brian Smedley (Labour, Bridgwater Hamp) - said "This failure to look properly at the petition is typical of the Councils attitude to consultation. 15 minutes to debate this?! Each councillor has just 30 seconds to comment! We should take it to a committee for proper consideration. How many chances do you need? Very soon you won't even have a town centre to worry about!"
Cllr Joe Leach (Lib Dem,Highbridge) - said "The cost to the council for further investigation will be nothing. Sedgemoor says it wants to protect front line services and a petition with 7000 signatures requires further scrutiny."
|Cllr Laband "Figures dont add up"|
Cllr John Laband (Lib Dem ,Highbridge) said "The figures don't add up. The decision has been autocratic and did not take into consideration what the majority of people want which is the basis of democracy."
Cllr Neville Jones- (Conservative, Burnham on Sea,North) said " To now take any other action will simply cause delay."
Cllr Mike Mansfield (Lib Dem,Burnham on Sea,South) said "- Why was Splash left in such a state. Surely the council should have looked after it better!"
|Cllr Bown "The Splash has gone"|
Cllr Ann Bown (Conservative, Sandford) said -" Face reality! The Splash has gone !".
Cllr Duncan Mc Ginty (Conservative,East Poldens) as Leader summed up . "With reference to the town centre I don'tconsider it that bad. The council owns 16 units and only 3 are empty but even these are under offer, as one shop closes another opens. Chilton Trinity is not that far from the centre. EDF was not a bread basket but the council will work for a strategy to get more money from them. We can't afford to wait and in fact work has already started. A pool will be ready by 2012. "
The motion was put by Cllr Kathy Pearce and seconded by Cllr Brian Smedley but was voted down by a unanimous Tory vote.
Sedgemoor District Council is composed of 37 Conservatives, 10 Labour and 3 Libdem members. Elections are next May.