Wednesday, 10 February 2010


Hamp Labour Councillors Kathy Pearce and Brian Smedley, who have been a central part of the 'Save the Splash campaign' , made a last minute intervention at the County Planning committee last week in an attempt to keep swimming provision in Bridgwater town centre but their bid was scuppered by an unholy alliance of Tory and LibDem County Councillors and the inactivity of Bridgwaters most recent lib dem convert Cllr Gill (who not only abstained from the vote but left the meeting so he couldn't take part in the debate).

Kathy said "Sedgemoors swimming policy is in tatters and they are now spending £6.3m on a new pool, when even they said it would have cost £4m to refurbish Splash . I think they got hung up on the fact that the revenue costs for the Splash were 700,000 (even though 300,000 of those were on-costs). My theory is that they were so obsessed with selling Northgate - they acted in haste and backed the 'wrong horse' with the BSF, with the expectation that the 3 bidders for Northgate would remain. Bit by bit it all began to fall apart and the scenario predicted by the Labour Group has happened. Public pressure has forced them not to abandon the idea of swimming in Bridgwater altogether -which was the original policy put forward by Chief Executive Kerry Rickards and management team-but at far greater cost than it would have been had they stuck with the Splash (especially if they had modified it to make it more cost efficient as we had suggested) and with a 2-3 year gap with no swimming in the town. They are now putting a positive spin on it all."

Brian said "The Labour controlled Town Council passed a motion condemning Tory Sedgemoor for tearing down the Splash and criticising the Chilton location as out of town and calling for
town centre swimming . A rejection of the Chilton site for swimming at the same time they still have the Splash site could have derailed their plans and made them relook at the town centre location. Myself and Kathy supported the Bridgwater Forward groups protest at the County meeting and attempted to get the councillors to reject the swimming element of the planning application. Sadly the Lib Dem councillors this time round totally fell in line behind the Tories and even our new LibDem/ex-Tory county councillor Steve Gill allowed himself to be convinced that he had to leave the meeting and not take part in it...despite Tory councillors such as Derek Alder (who had already voted on SDC to close the Splash) choosing to stay and vote . It;s yet another Tory blow against Bridgwater and yet more LibDem hot air. They're all promise and no action!"

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