SCALED-DOWN plans for a six-lane, 25-metre new Worcester swimming pool could be ditched in favour of a bigger, better facility.
Your Worcester News can reveal a series of dramatic developments in the city's new pool saga - and that a firm decision will be made in September.
A new report has been published by the city council revealing:
- April's decision by the old Labour administration to press on with a smaller, six-lane pool is not favoured by the new Conservative leadership
- It has asked council officers to come up with new alternatives based around a bigger swimming pool, more space for spectators and an enhanced sports hall
- The Tories believe going all out for a bigger facility may bring more economic benefits to the city and increase the number of users
- Fresh talks are being held with Sport England and other "potential funding" bodies to see if any of them can help even at this late stage
- A definitive decision will be made in September, giving the council just over two months to see what can be salvaged
- The council says once it has decided for good, the new facility will be still open in Perdiswell by mid-2016
As your Worcester News previously reported, Sansome Walk pool is coming to the end of its life and the council intends to revamp Perdiswell Leisure Centre to make it the city's new pool.
It has already looked at two options, either opening up a six-lane pool on the site by extending it, or building an entirely new £13 million leisure centre next to it with eight lanes before demolishing the existing Perdiswell site.
In April the Labour cabinet backed the first option, costing £6.5 million after saying the more expensive pool is out of reach.
Despite scepticism from Labour, the new Tory leadership believes it can find a better alternative.
Councillor David Wilkinson, cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said: "I want to get away from this polarisation of either a six-lane or eight-lane pool - if we can improve what we can offer in terms of more square metres of water space, more space either side for spectators and a bigger sports hall we should look at it.
"I want to know what more can be done at what cost. Either way, we are making a definite decision in September."
Councillor Richard Boorn, Labour's finance spokesman, said: "Like everyone else I want a new pool, but people think a bigger pool earns more money and that's wrong - it means more operating costs."