Oakham mum launches campaign for Rutland County Council to reopen county's last public swimming pool at Catmose Sports Centre
An Oakham mum has launched a petition calling on Rutland County Council to give the public a place to swim.
Leah Toseland decided to take action following the council's announcement that they cannot afford the repairs needed to reopen the swimming pool at Catmose Sports Centre.
The pool has remained closed since the first national lockdown in March 2020 and a survey in February this year stated it should not be used without major structural improvements.
Repairs have been estimated at £500,000.
However, Leah believes a public pool is not a luxury but essential for physical fitness and mental wellbeing, particularly at a time when more housing developments are in the pipeline.
"Currently Rutland is the only county in England with no public swimming pool," she said.
"A public pool is a vital necessity and provides a monumental number of benefits. Without one it's the people of Rutland who suffer."
Leah has first-hand experience of the value of learning to swim, having almost drowned as a child before taking lessons - in a public pool.
She also believes time in the pool is both therapeutic and potentially life-saving for her children - Jack (9) and Josh (7) - who both have autism.
"Swimming is a key life skill that every child should be given the opportunity to learn," she added.
"My two sons adore the water and it helps provide them with much-needed sensory input.
"I would say it acts as an invaluable form of therapy for them.
"Unfortunately, there is a heightened risk of drowning for autistic children.
"Swimming lessons can help to reduce the risk of accidental drowning and also bring happiness, increased water confidence, and help improve co-ordination skills."
She called on the county council to either repair the pool or look into a new development with added facilities for younger children as well as alternative funding ideas, such as a community-run scheme.
Within a day of launch, the petition had attracted almost 650 signatures.
"It appears as if nothing is being looked into or done about the pool and this is a great loss for residents of all ages," Leah said.
"It feels unfair we do not have a public pool and the problem is put down to funding, especially when you take into account the council tax that we pay in Rutland."
She added: "There are public swimming pools in Melton, Corby and Stamford, but these are simply not accessible for people who do not drive.
"The bus services are so poor that it makes it much more difficult to get to these pools, especially for children’s swimming lessons after school.
"It is not right that the only swimming pools in our county are privately-owned and not as readily available for the people of Rutland."
Click here to visit the online petition.