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£2m lottery bid for new Worcester swimming pool
A LOTTERY bid for up to £2 million is being made to build a massive new swimming pool in Worcester, it has emerged.
Council chiefs have given their clearest indication yet that the Faithful City will get a new pool fit for the 21st century - by asking Sport England to help fund it.
Your Worcester News can also reveal that the body has indicated to the city council the bid will be looked at favourably.
That money, however, would still leave Worcester just over £3 million short of being able to fund a top class, competition standard eight-lane facility, which has a £5.2m funding gap.
Leading politicians have urged the authority to go for the jugular - with Worcester MP Robin Walker calling for a fresh probe into the existing costs.
At the moment the council has a £192,000 funding gap for building a six-lane pool - but £2m from Sport England would give it serious extra cash to play with.
The Labour leadership says both options are still on the table.
As your Worcester News first revealed last year, the new pool is earmarked for land at Perdiswell next to the existing leisure centre, which would be demolished once the new one opens up.
Councillor Roger Berry, cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said: “At a time when council finances are stretched to breaking point, extra investment in such an important project would be very welcome.
“My fingers are crossed that this bid will be successful.”
Tory Councillor Jabba Riaz said: “On the face of it this is good news, because if we get this money there is no argument for now not building a swimming pool.
“If we get it, it will fund a new facility.”
Worcester MP Robin Walker said: “When I suggested they go to Sport England eight or nine months the impression I got was that money from them would be unlikely, so this is very positive.
“Worcester definitely needs this and I would urge them to see if they can bring down the costs as the gap between the two (pools) looks slightly surprising to me.”
A bid is being prepared which will go to a Sport England committee on Monday, December 9.
It is expected to be for between £1.5m and £2m.
If it is backed at that stage, the body will ask for a second report to be presented in March next year, and a decision will then be made.
A vote is expected at full council in June next year on whether to go ahead and what pool to go for, with spring 2016 the likely opening date.
Both options require borrowing of either £7.7m or £10m, paid back over 40 years at a four per cent interest rate.
It comes amid major budget cuts as the council battles to try and save around £3m by 2017/18.
The Labour administration, which took over the pool project back in May after dumping the Conservatives from power, had placed it under review amid worries over financing it.
If Sport England accept the bid it would give the scheme a major shot in the arm.
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