As the only public pool in town for residents and schools, I am delighted the swimming pool in the Leisure Centre next to Bridgnorth Endowed School is now on track to reopen.
Bridgnorth Endowed took over responsibility for running the pool from Shropshire Council almost two years ago, and decided to invest in new changing facilities. When this work began, asbestos sheeting was discovered in the roof above the pool and many of the supporting metal columns for the changing rooms had suffered severe metal fatigue and corrosion, due to exposure to chlorine treated water over many years.
This discovery left the School facing a massive bill of over £600,000 in order to make safe the structure and complete the works. I was asked to help and having seen the conditions for myself was pleased to support applications to Sport England, the Education and Skills Funding Agency, and the Department for Education, which helped secure the largest contributions to the funding required.
The school's governors, in particular Chairman Mark Freathy and the recently retired Headteacher Phil Loveday put in a huge effort to secure this funding, but despite their efforts, there remained a significant gap which threatened viability of the repair project. If funding were not found quickly to complete the job, costs would have spiralled significantly.
So I am very pleased that after the intervention of new Mayor Ron Whittle and new Shropshire Councillor Elliott Lynch, agreement was reached that Shropshire Council will match Bridgnorth Town Council's contribution up to £30,000 each.
I congratulate everyone involved in getting behind this initiative. This is a fine example of community volunteers working closely with new councillors who have hit the ground running, making a real difference for people in Bridgnorth so soon after their election.
A final total of £7,500 is still to be raised, but work on the pool and the changing rooms is now completed, with a year in which to find this remaining balance. Having joined celebrations two months ago for the opening of the refurbished pool in Highley, where £70,000 was raised, this is another really encouraging example of how different levels of government, alongside committed local activists and volunteers, can help retain an important asset for their community.
I am delighted the swimming pool reopens this Saturday, alongside the new gym and indoor cycling studio at the refurbished Leisure Centre, which is offering free swimming over the weekend to celebrate.