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Talks held in bid to fund new pool
TENTATIVE talks have been held between the city council and the University of Worcester about funding for the proposed £13.5 million swimming pool.
Sources have told your Worcester News that the council approached the university about contributing.
As your Worcester News reported this week, a feasibility study has been compiled suggesting that the only affordable option at present is a £10.7 million pool with facilities similar to those already at Sansome Walk.
If the council wants to continue with the original plan for an eight-lane county standard pool fit for competitions it needs to find ways of bridging a £5.2 million gap.
Some leading figures are even suggesting approaching the NHS on the grounds that a new pool would tackle obesity.
Mr Walker said: “The council will ultimately have to take a view, but I am very keen to help them access whatever funds might be available.
“I think they can learn from developments like the Hive and Worcester Arena which shows that being ambitious can pay off.
“I don’t think it should be impossible to build a facility which improves upon what we’ve got.
“They need to look at what other organisations can contribute – there is an argument for saying that the county ought to be involved.”
It is not known when the university was approached, but sources suggest the idea has received a lukewarm response.
City leader Simon Geraghty said the council could argue that the pool will create public health benefits, suggesting that the health service contributes.
“Looking at the report it is very clear that the city council’s affordability envelope is the £10 million option,” he said.
“The question now is, ‘Are there other players who are prepared to come forward and invest?’ “It is not an insurmountable challenge if someone else comes on board.”
Both options would require borrowing of £7-£10 million which would have to be paid back over 40 years at a four per cent interest rate.
Once a new pool is built, the existing Sansome Walk facility would be demolished and the land sold with £500,000 added to the funding pot.
A university spokesman said: “A new swimming pool in Worcester would undoubtedly be desirable and the university is, of course, happy to engage in discussion on inspiring proposals which have real merit in meeting the demanding tests of educational, financial and environmental sustainability.”