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Lobby Government to help with new Worcester pool, says councillor
CALLS are being made for leading Worcester politicians to lobby parliament on better funding - amid claims it could help the city afford a first class swimming pool.
Pressure is being put on the city council's new Conservative leadership to ask the likes of Worcester MP Robin Walker to make a direct plea to Government for improved Whitehall grants.
The city council's funding from central Government was slashed 15 per cent this year, and by 2019 the authority expects to have to save £4.1 million to balance the books.
It comes at a time when the leadership is grappling with the city's swimming pool conundrum.
Speaking during a full council meeting, Labour Councillor Roger Berry said the cabinet was "going to have to make a decision at some stage" and asked for assurances they would lobby Government to help.
Councillor David Wilkinson, Tory cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said: "There is a general acceptance that Worcester deserves a proper municipal swimming pool, and given that the lifespan of one is about 40 years, every 40 years this council has to make a decision over it.
"Clearly we need time to arrive at the correct decision but the general principle of asking (central Government) for more money is always something I am happy to take away."
The Conservative administration has placed plans for a £6.5 million six-lane pool at Perdiswell under review.
The stance is aimed at seeing if the council can revive old proposals for a bigger, better £13 million competition-standard facility with eight lanes.
A six-lane option would involve refurbishing the existing Perdiswell Leisure Centre and adding an extra wing onto it, whereas an eight-lane option means demolishing it for a brand new build on adjacent land.
The council wants to then knock down the Sansome Walk pool and open its new facility by the end of 2015.
Earlier this year, Labour announced it was shelving any hopes of the eight-lane pool after saying it would be unfair to lumber taxpayers with such a hefty bill, but then it lost power in June.
Worcester MP Robin Walker and the city's swimming club are among those calling for the bigger option, but the issue of affording it remains elusive.