Victorian swimming baths to close - but new £6m pool to open

HULL’S oldest swimming pool faces the axe as part of plans to transfer the city’s cash-strapped leisure services to a not for profit company.

East Hull baths, which opened on Holderness Road in 1898, is set to be replaced by a new £6m six-lane pool extension to Woodford leisure centre, a mile up the road, by Spring 2017.

In the past plans to close the much-loved baths have met stiff resistance, but cabinet member Coun Phil Webster said it was “no good bowing to sentimentality.”

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Hull Council is facing another huge Government spending squeeze of £47m by 2018, and Coun Webster said they had been forced by the scale of the cuts to make changes - but added: “What we are doing first and foremost is protecting the ability of local people to swim.”

East Hull baths won’t close until the new facility is open.

Coun Webster said: “I will be voting for a new facility to be opened and to then replace East Hull baths, it has to be done in that order. Regardless savings have to be made.

“It’s no good just bowing to sentimentality. It has to be one thing or the other; we are down to the bones.”

Councillors meet on Wednesday to discuss the new wholly-owned council company, which is aiming to make £1m savings a year. According to councillor Webster the Victorian baths cost around £500,000 a year to run and rack up significant energy bills in contrast to the new facility, which would use staff working at the adjoining leisure centre, and cost just £100,000 a year to run - a net saving of £400,000.

Under the “Newco” plans, more than 700 staff working in catering, libraries, parks, sports, excluding theatres and halls, would transfer to the new company with the same pension entitlements.

As a not for profit company, it would be eligible for rate relief on buildings saving £600,000 a year and would be able to apply for grants to bodies like Sports England, which the council cannot do. Trade unions are objecting to the plans.