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NEW BRIGHTON LIDO: Community group furious with Council over plans

NEW BRIGHTON LIDO: Community group furious with Council over plans

Image: LDRS

A community group in New Brighton is furious with Wirral Council over money the authority has put towards plans for a new lido.

Last March, the authority gave £80,000 to Our Lido Ltd as a contribution towards feasibility studies for an outdoor swimming pool in the town.

In a document published last October, Wirral Council said the company wanted to develop a new lido combined with health, wellbeing and community facilities, which could be located in New Brighton, although there was no guarantee as to its eventual location.

New Brighton did have an open-air swimming pool from June 13, 1934, when it was opened by Viscount Leverhulme, until 1990 when it was damaged beyond repair by a storm.

The New Brighton Coastal Community Team (NBCCT) is a group set up to revive the seaside town, made up of voluntary members and local business people.

Speaking to the LDRS, a spokesperson for the group said: “We do want a People’s Pool [lido] believe me, but the council agreed to pay £80,000 for a feasibility study before the consultation, no one knew anything about it.”

They said the group only found out about the issue last summer and that the NBCCT has not been given the same generous funding opportunities as Our Lido Ltd.

The spokesperson added: “We are working on various schemes and have asked if we can apply to the same funding pot that Our Lido Ltd did. All we got was a brick wall [in response].”

Minutes from a meeting of NBCCT on November 30, 2020, show that members were “outraged” to find out that the £80,000 sum had been awarded.

Last year, the council began its consultation on a New Brighton Masterplan, setting out how the resort will be improved over the next 15 years.

On this, the spokesperson said: “We expected a considered consultation process, but it ended up being completely hijacked by the People’s Pool idea.

“The thing with the People’s Pool which worries us is that New Brighton has had it happen many times where we’re told we will get a pool but we never do.

“The older community are a lot more cynical than the younger generation who think let’s go. The older generation say how much will it be, where will it be?

“It’s a separate issue which needs to be looked at in its own right. The council has missed the boat with this consultation, it would have been nice to see what people came up with.

“It feels like the council isn’t listening to us.”

One proposal the spokesperson discussed was a natural tidal pool in New Brighton which had been used a lot in recent decades.

They said the pool fills with salt water when the tide is high and families used to flock to it. The natural pool only needed a crack to be fixed to become a great natural attraction.

The spokesperson added: “It seems pretty ironic to have given this money [the £80,000] when cutbacks such as closing Europa Pools are being considered.”

The spokesperson acknowledged that this money was part of the capital budget and was not in direct competition with leisure services or areas such as adult social care for funding.

It is also worth pointing out that the money was given before the pandemic took hold and such cuts were being considered.

However the anger the funding award has generated is clear, particularly given that NBCCT does not feel it has been given the same support for ideas it has come up with to achieve the goal held by many in the area, to improve New Brighton and make it a seaside resort fit for the 2020s.

Cllr Anita Leech, chair of Wirral Council’s economy and regeneration committee, said: “The consultation on the future of New Brighton saw hundreds of people and organisations responding with a significant number of positive proposals and suggestions for the future of the town.

“These are now being analysed to develop a masterplan to guide the future development of the seaside resort.

“The consultation was carried out to ensure that the voices of those who live and work in New Brighton, as well as those who visit, are fully reflected in any proposals for the town.

“This was an initial, first stage, consultation to get people’s ideas and we will be going out again for peoples’ views as the masterplan is developed.”

A spokesperson for Our Lido Ltd said: “We are delighted with the support we’ve had from the council and the local community to bring back a lido in New Brighton.”

Words: George Morgan, Local Democracy Reporter


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