Worcester’s MP, Robin Walker, was amongst the early visitors to Worcester’s new eight lane 25 metre swimming pool on Saturday as it opened its doors to the public for the first time. Having campaigned for years for a new pool to replace the tired facilities at Sansome Walk, the MP was able to sign up for his membership of the £10.5 million swimming pool that was voted through by Conservatives on Worcester City Council despite Labour opposition.

On its first day the pool and the revamped sports facilities at Perdiswell which include smart new gym equipment, fully accessible changing rooms, a state of the art cycling simulator and a reconditioned sports hall welcomed around 3,000 visitors and signed up 268 new memberships including the local MP. Robin joined the centre’s mascot Jim Shoe for a celebratory photograph beside the spectacular new facility. His previous visit had been during the construction phase of the project which was delivered on time and on budget by local contractor Spellar Metcalfe and the MP was delighted to see how smart the completed buildings looked. They feature art work from local schools, unparalleled accessibility and extra parking at the Perdiswell site which was being well used at the time of his visit.

The idea of a new pool was originally put forward at the City council under Councillor Simon Geraghty when the Conservatives led Worcester City council, but the plans for a competition standard eight lane pool were put into jeopardy when Labour took control in 2013. At that time Robin urged the council to be ambitious and to go for a bigger and better pool so as to be able to attract national funding but the Labour leadership of the council wanted to downgrade the facility to just six lanes and a smaller footprint in order to save money. When the Conservatives regained control the following year the larger and more ambitious version was voted through and shortly afterwards the pool won lottery funding of £2 million which more than justified that decision. The contract for running the facility has also been renegotiated so that popular sports facilities make a better contribution to the council’s ongoing finances instead of requiring heavy subsidies.

Speaking about the new pool Robin said:

“It was a joy to visit such a spectacular new facility for Worcester and even my high expectations were exceeded. Having visited last year when all this was a building site it is wonderful to see how the project has come on and how bright and spacious the new facilities are. It is great that our city which is establishing itself as an international centre for inclusive and accessible sport has another accessible facility and I am sure everyone in Worcester will want to take a look. I am thrilled for our local Swimming Club who campaigned so hard to get a proper competition standard facility and for all those who backed this from the start.”

“It is ironic that the Labour group on Worcester city council voted against the pool in its current form and have since been trying to take credit for its delivery. They deserve some credit for accepting the decision of the previous conservative administration the second time around and for improving the offer when it comes to accessibility but it is on the record that most Labour Councillors voted against having an eight lane pool. I am delighted that their opposition was overcome and that the city will be getting good value for money from this ambitious project. The strong interest in memberships when I went to visit reflects the fact that this should continue.”

Notes to editors

For more information on the Perdiswell sports facilities and swimming pool see:

http://www.worcester.gov.uk/swimmingpool

https://www.freedom-leisure.co.uk/centres/perdiswell-leisure-centre/

For Robin’s previous visit to the pool see:

http://www.worcester.gov.uk/news-alerts/-/blogs/wave-of-excitement-at-sneak-preview-of-worcester-s-new-10-5m-swimming-po-1

For his previous press releases on the pool see:

https://www.walker4worcester.com/walker-welcomes-massive-2-million-investment-in-worcester-swimming-pool/

and for his support ahead of the 2014 vote see:

https://www.worcestersc.co.uk/?p=3773

For the Worcester City Council vote on the proposals for an eight and a six lane pool see:

http://committee.cityofworcester.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=14283