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Rutland County Council approve new swimming pool project and permanent closure of Catmose Sports centre pool to public

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Plans for a new public swimming pool in Rutland are set to be drawn up after a report into the county's leisure provision found 'urgent' decisions needed to be made.

Rutland County Council's cabinet approved all seven recommendations of the report put forward by Coun Alan Walters, the then Portfolio Holder for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Care.

“It is now urgent that decisions are taken to shape the future provision for the county,” it said.

Councillors approved a recommendation that the Catmose Sports Centre pool would not reopen to the public
Councillors approved a recommendation that the Catmose Sports Centre pool would not reopen to the public

Among those recommendations was one drawing up designs to support a viable case for a new swimming pool in Rutland.

Beyond the design stage it would need ‘at least 90% of capital funding’ to be found externally or through a partner and if the new facility ‘can be delivered at no revenue cost to the council’.

The approval also confirmed that Catmose Pool, which has remained closed for safety reasons since the start of lockdown in March 2020, would not re-open as repairs, estimated at more than £500,000, are ‘not affordable’.

At Tuesday's meeting, cabinet members were also presented with a petition to give the Rutland public a place to swim.

It attracted 2,636 signatures, with 1,124 deemed valid by the council as from those living within the county.

“I think that’s a really clear message that people do believe in it and do want it,” said petition co-ordinator Leah Toseland, who was voted on to the council earlier this month at the Oakham North West by-election.

The report also recommended allocating £250,000 of developer contributions to a pool project as match funding as well as exploring community-owned leisure options, and to begin negotiations with Catmose College over the future of its ‘dry’ leisure facilities.

The council report highlighted the importance of leisure provision to the health of Rutland’s population.

Health in the county was found to be better than the national average, but with ‘significant underlying long-term health issues and increasing levels of inactivity’.

With a population older than the national average, there was a ‘higher prevalence’ in Rutland of conditions including stroke, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and heart failure.

It said community access was the ‘key issue’ with current swimming facilities, with the main pressure in the north of the county following Catmose Pool’s closure.

The Catmose Sports Centre was said to meet ‘a significant proportion of the county’s leisure demand’ before the pandemic.

In the year from April 2019, Catmose Pool had 1,484 members and 10,300 casual users, with 9,000 of that total from Rutland.

Access to leisure facilities elsewhere in the county was ‘much more constrained’, with public access to pools limited to 11-and-a-half hours per week at Oakham School and 11 hours at Uppingham School.

“There is potential for a small increase in access, but it will not be possible to secure the 52.5 hours per week of peak time access provided by Catmose Pool,” the report added.

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