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STAFFORDSHIRE: Rugeley swimming pool reopening delayed

STAFFORDSHIRE: Rugeley swimming pool reopening delayed

From left, Paul Atkins (Consultant/Project Manager at Cannock Chase Council), Chris Derbyshire (Managing Director for Inspiring healthy lifestyles),

Hopes have been dashed of re-opening a town’s swimming pool this month – more than 18 months after it closed to the public.

Rugeley’s pool has been shut since the start of the first national lockdown in March 2020, when it was required to close as part of measures to control the spread of coronavirus.

Problems with the facility were identified after this closure and work was carried out to restore the pool structure, as well as install new filtration and heating systems, a new hot water and energy system and new tiling.

In September it was announced by Cannock Chase Council that the pool was set to reopen in late November following a £1.25m investment in facilities at Rugeley Leisure Centre.

But on Thursday (November 11) cabinet members heard that further issues had been found at the pool.

Council leader Olivia Lyons said: “This is a difficult one for me to say.

“We are all aware there was ongoing repair work completed during lockdown and the correct decision was made to replace the boiler at the same time. We are now nearing the end of that work but sadly additional issues have been identified again.

“The issue relates to the overflow at the side of the pool, it is outside the pool itself and affects the tiles. The lifespan of the tiles around the pool is limited and it has been decided it’s better to undertake that work straight away.

“It will delay the reopening of the pool and that’s incredibly disappointing, particularly being a Rugeley councillor. But the alternative is to not undertake that work and it could fail at any time.

“If we were to reopen the pool and the issue was to arise we would have to close the pool, drain it, dry it and tender for work again. The answer is to undertake the work now so it can be open for a long time in the future.”

Fellow Rugeley councillor Justin Johnson, cabinet member for environment and climate change, said: “I understand the difficult decision you have had to make. I have had emails saying we have disappointed residents not being able to take children to Rugeley’s swimming pool for the last year and a half.

“The worst thing we could do is not do these final repairs. If we leave it now the chances are it will fail again in six months. We just need to wait a few more weeks and hopefully it will be open for business again.”

The swimming pool at Rugeley Leisure Centre first opened in July 2008, following a 30-year campaign for the facility.

But it had to close just hours after the official opening because of damaged grating and health and safety fears. Two youngsters suffered minor injuries on a section of channel grating next to the pool.

Rugeley Leisure Centre is run by Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles, a charity trust, on behalf of Cannock Chase Council.

The £1.25m investment in facilities has included a new outdoor 3G artificial grass sports pitch with low-energy LED floodlights and a car park extension with electric vehicle charging points.

Words: Kerry Ashdown, Local Democracy Reporter

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