March 12 2014 Latest news:
Friday, December 13, 2013
Fakenham Academy’s swimming pool will close in the summer, potentially putting the future of several long-established sports clubs under threat.
The academy’s principal, Matthew Parr-Burman, delivered the news at Fakenham Town Council’s meeting on Tuesday night, where it was described as a devastating blow to the town.
North Norfolk District Council leader and county councillor Tom FitzPatrick said: “If Tom Daley grew up in Norfolk he never would have made it to the Olympics because there are not enough swimming pools here.”
Members of clubs which have been using the pool for more than 35 years also expressed their frustrations.
They highlighted how the move could affect people’s health and, with fewer people having the opportunity to learn to swim, could pose a serious threat to people’s water safety.
Mr Parr-Burman said he agreed with those views but, because of rising costs, the academy could no longer afford to keep the pool open.
He said: “The high maintenance and running costs of the pool, at slightly over £100,000 per year, far exceed the modest amount of revenue it generates – around £12,000 per year.
“We have explored different options for keeping the pool open, including talking to new potential groups of users and seeking another organisation to take on the management of the pool, but these avenues have unfortunately not yielded a solution that would enable us to keep the pool open.
“We are working with other local pools to see if they are able to support our existing users.
“We appreciate this will be disappointing news for our students, local primary schools and a number of other private groups who currently use the pool.
“We will keep the pool open for a further seven months to allow sufficient time for alternative arrangements to be made with other pools in the local area for these users.”
It is estimated that between 200 and 250 people use the pool regularly with some coming from as far as Norwich, Dereham, Watton and King’s Lynn.
Among those at the meeting were representatives from Fakenham Swimming Club and Dereham Canoe Group.
A canoe group representative said: “Our members travel a long way to use the pool and this could be it for us.”
Fakenham Swimming Club chairman Charlotte Wood said the club would hold a meeting to decide where they went from here.
Fakenham town councillor Richard Crook said he wanted to see if there were any ways to prevent the closure.
Mr FitzPatrick said he would pursue funding opportunities alongside the proposals to bring 900 new homes to the north of Fakenham to see if a new pool can be built in the long-term.
The academy has announced a closing date of July 23 next year.