Hornby residents ‘hopeful’ of saving village swimming pool

Hornby Swimming Pool and car park.
Hornby Swimming Pool and car park.

Hornby residents are hopeful for the future of their village swimming pool after councillors agreed to ‘mothball’ the pool as part of their 2017/18 budget proposals on Wednesday evening.

Lancaster City Council will cease running the pool from March 31 and hand it back to owners Lancashire County Council.

It will then be maintained in order to give residents six months to draw up a business programme and set up a community asset transfer to run the pool themselves.

It is hoped grant funding might be available from a body such as Sport England.

In 2015/16 the pool ran at a loss of £74,622, costing £147,814 to run with income of £73,192.

Hornby Focus School had originally shown interest in putting together a plan to buy the pool but then withdrew.

They said Hornby pool “lacks the sort of additional leisure facilities that could help to make it a viable concern”.

Conservative councillor Roger Mace said at Wednesday’s meeting: “It’s in the interest of the local people that they have some means of local recreation.”

Labour councillor Darren Clifford, cabinet member for tourism, said: “It’s quite a sad situation. We want to give the pools a very good chance of survival but we have to come back to whether there’s a viable business at this stage and the answer is that there isn’t.”

David Collins, secretary of Hornby Village Trust, said villagers were now “quietly hopeful” of being able to progress with forming a trust to take over the running of the pool.

“I am told hundreds of pools around the country are run like this,” he said.

“We are going to give it our best shot.”

The news is positive for the many swimmers who use the facility.

Bob McGachie, who is behind the drive to keep the pool open, said many elderly people and children rely on Hornby swimming pool.

He said pensioners, schools and parents were united behind the campaign and doctors regularly refer elderly people to use the pool for therapy after knee and hip replacements.

An ePetition aimed at saving the pool gained more than 300 signatures, while a ‘Save Hornby Pool’ Facebook page has also been set up.

The pool was opened in 1977 after being built using money raised by the community.

Carnforth High and Heysham High schools are currently in takeover talks with the city council which means Carnforth and Heysham pools will stay open until September at least.