26 October 2008
Labour Government provides funds for free swimming for children & older people but Tory council closes our pools
Many Labour Party members yesterday joined other members of the public on a march from the offices of the Ilford Recorder to the Town Centre. They were there to protest at the sudden closure of the High Road Swimming Pools, one of only two public baths in the borough.
The building had been condemned by structural engineers and had to close on grounds of safety. But the Tory administration in Redbridge has known there have been grave concerns regarding the building for many years. They have failed to fund necessary maintenance over many years. Plans to provide new facilities in Ilford became bogged down in factional in-fighting amongst the Conservatives. Some Tory councillors promised grandiose schemes, which couldn’t be funded, in a bid to win prestige and leadership in the Conservative group. This simply stopped more practical schemes going ahead and has resulted in the loss of huge financial support from the government for a new pool.
As a result of this shambles swimmers in Ilford and the south of the borough now have to travel to an overcrowded pool at Fulwell Cross, or out of the borough altogether. Swimming clubs and groups which used the High Road pools will not easily be accommodated, nor will those who were receiving swimming lessons.
All this comes at a time when our Labour government is providing funds to enable local councils to provide free swimming for those under the age of 16 or over 6o. But while children & older people in neighbouring boroughs benefit, there is nowhere to go for swimmers in Ilford.