Libby Steele, the head coach for Kirkham and Wesham Swimming Club, and a well-respected Swimming Teacher who worked previously worked at the pool before it’s closure has shared a full update regarding the future of Kirkham Baths:
‘I thought I’d write an update about the items that were discussed in the Council / YMCA meeting last night at the Community Centre. First of all, it was amazing to see the hall packed out, with many people having to stand due to capacity. This, if at all anything, has shown Fylde Borough Council (FBC) how important these Baths are to the local community.
The meeting was kicked off by introductions from members of the Town Council, FBC and also included the CEO of YMCA Fylde Coast.
The first point discussed at the meeting was the cost of repairing the existing baths; they have estimated to fully refurbish the inside and fix the roof, I’m order to be a ‘fit for purpose’ building, at around £1 million. They said that these repairs would only last 5 years – when questioned about where this figure had come from, there was no answer.
FBC and YMCA are keen on finding a site for a new, modern pool. Their estimated time frame on this project; taking into account sourcing a site, funding, planning permission and building the pool was a minimum of 5 years. When asked about potential sites, Freckleton, Warton, Staining, Wrea Green and even the current site where Kirkham baths is currently, were all being considered. The councillor in charge of leisure was questioned about funding, for which she responded they needed a site before they could apply for some, but then also stated that this funding could be declined and it was a risk that they were willing to take. Town councillors stated that the cost of the new pool would be around 5 million pounds. However, an independent councillor stepped in and said he had a quantity surveyor estimate the costs at 10 million pounds minimum. That is without taking into account inflation over the next 5 years, if that is how long it will actually take, as we all know everything takes longer than expected. This independent councillor also mentioned a similar situation happening in Ribble Valley. He said that their pool was also old and deemed not fit for purpose, so they, like our council, sourced funding for a new pool. Ever since, they have had issues with the new building and have resorted back to the old pool.
Independent councillors made strong points about how FBC is one of the most profitable councils; the consensus in room after that discussion was, why could FBC not step in and fund the repairs at Kirkham Baths, when other monies are being utilised for other projects less valued to the local community.
Another final and important issue discussed was the insurance. It seemed there were lots of back and forth between YMCA and the insurance company about putting tarpaulin up to protect the building and make it water proof. The YMCA were stuck between putting tarpaulin up or a semi-permanent roof. When the quote came through for the semi-permanent roof it was decided that it was too expensive. Ultimately, the building was left and nothing was ever done about it. It was argued that the inside of the building would be in a better condition now if it had not been left to the elements for 21 months. The insurance company has paid out 400k to the YMCA, which has been used for redundancy pay outs, and the upkeep of the building. The building itself is valued at around 300k and is currently in a 3-month grace period, where YMCA will decide what they want to do with the building (as they own the land). This has to be approved by FBC with whatever they decide to do in these 3 months. After this period, it was not made clear what the YMCAs intentions with the building/land are.
All in all, the meeting shed some light on the current state of affairs. The vast majority of the audience, independent FBC and some town councillors want to spend the 1 million pounds on refurbishing the current baths. It is the quickest way to get swimming back to Kirkham which requires no planning permission, sourcing land and there was no hard evidence given as to why it wouldn’t last more than 5 years. This is much more beneficial to people of Kirkham and the wider community to refurbish the old baths considering the amount of people / kids missing out currently.’
Libby concludes by saying, ‘Thank you for your continued support, please keep sharing this petition to keep the pressure on the council / YMCA to act !’
To sign the petition go to: https://www.change.org/p/save-kirkham-swimming-baths?recruiter=false&utm_source=share_petition&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial&utm_medium=whatsapp&utm_content=washarecopy_37104537_en-GB%3A8&recruited_by_id=e4681bb0-3819-11ee-a102-995d03e8f535&share_bandit_exp=initial-37104537-en-GB
To read more on this important issue go to: https://www.lythamstannes.news/news/petition-launched-to-save-the-now-permanently-closed-kirkham-baths/