Overton swimming pool in urgent need of volunteers

First published in News Basingstoke Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

HUNDREDS of people who attended a meeting to find out the future of an outdoor swimming pool in Overton, were told that if they do not volunteer their time, it will close.

The committee of Lordsfield Swimming Pool, based at Overton Primary School, organised the public meeting on Tuesday, at which Charlie Thorn, who has been chairman of the committee for 33 years, announced that he was stepping down from the post.

He told the gathering: “The biggest threat to the pool is you. If you are not prepared to help, the pool will shut.”

Since Lordsfield was built 50 years ago, the club, which has 700 members, has paid annual rent to the school.

But Chris Batten told the packed room at Overton Community Centre that Hampshire County Council is not prepared to fund the costs, which will in future be split 60 per cent to the club and 40 per cent to the school.

The costs of running the pool, which are expected to increase from £12,000 to £16,000 in the next five years, need to be raised in advance before the start of a new season.

New European Union regulations have also hit the club, and it is now required to have more supervisors on duty.

Speaking about the past and present, Ms Batten said: “Despite all the challenges thrown at us, we did it with skeleton volunteers. Going forward, we won’t be able to do this again and we desperately need your help.”

Jon Pritchard said the council will not allow the pool to be leased to a third party – either to manage it full time or to run as a commercial venture.

He added: “We are a non-profit making organisation so we continuously try to keep the fees as low as possible to make it accessible to everyone in the village.”

Janella Thow pleaded with villagers to give their time up and volunteer. She said: “The thought of that pool being filled in fills me with immense horror and sadness.”

Councillor Anna McNair Scott, Conservative member for the Candovers, said the school will still receive funding, but it is no longer specifically for the pool and could therefore be used elsewhere.

One villager questioned why the council was not trying to keep the pool open in the wake of the London Olympics.

Cllr McNair Scott responded: “We have to save a huge amount of money.”

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