Fight to save Hornby swimming pool

Coun Darren Clifford said finances for keeping Hornby Swimming Pool open do not ""stack up".
Coun Darren Clifford said finances for keeping Hornby Swimming Pool open do not ""stack up".

A man spearheading a drive to keep a village swimming pool open says closing it would be “criminal”.

Bob McGachie said many elderly people and children rely on Hornby swimming pool.

Mr McGachie 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.

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

But Mr McGachie hopes the council will allow villagers time to set up a community asset transfer to run the Hornby pool themselves.

“This is the third time they have tried to close the pool,” he said.

“The doctors have been using it for months to send people who have rheumatic conditions. These people are quite distressed.

“I popped in myself (on Tuesday) and there were 17 people in the pool, all aged over 75. The one downside of the pool is that it isn’t bigger, but it’s very regularly used.

“The schools are all behind the campaign. They don’t want to travel to Salt Ayre or Carnforth.

“To knock the pool down would be criminal.”

Mr McGachie, who lives in nearby Melling, has written to Susan Parsonage, chief executive of Lancaster City Council, about the pool’s future. An ePetition calling for the city council to debate the issue has also been launched and had more than 300 signatures. 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.

Councillor Darren Clifford, cabinet member for tourism, said last month: “Unfortunately we can’t make the finances at the small community pools stack up.” In 2015/16 the pool ran at a loss of £74,622, costing £147,814 to run with income of £73,192.

The council said 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”. Hornby Focus School has not commented.

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.

Lancaster City Council meets to finalise its 2017/18 budget tonight (Wednesday) from 6pm at Morecambe Town Hall.