Plea for repair cash as swimmers fight for future of swimming pool – East Lothian Courier

THE chair of Tranent and Elphinstone Community Council says he is confident that East Lothian Council will do everything possible to get the town’s Loch Centre swimming pool open as soon as possible.
East Lothian Council officers have identified that £4.4 million of building repairs are required for the pool to safely re-open.
However, a report to councillors last month revealed that there was no money to do the work either this year or “in future years”.
The pool has been closed since January to all swimmers, including Tranent Amateur Swimming Club (TASC), which has been forced to use pools in Musselburgh and Prestonpans.
Julia Taylor, TASC head coach, called on the local community to “make as much noise as possible” to get the pool open again.
Debbie Lawson, president of Musselburgh Amateur Swimming Club (MASC), also shared concerns about the pool closure, saying that she was fearful for the future of other pools in the county.
Ms Lawson said: “Over the years, TASC has played a pivotal role in producing world-class athletes, alongside ourselves, Haddington and the East Lothian performance team.
“We are concerned for our fellow club and its members, as well as the East Lothian swimming pathway.
“Pool time is at a premium and there is not enough availability in nearby pools to offer a full training schedule.
“It is not only essential that the funds are found to reopen this facility, but that adequate maintenance is allocated to ensure our remaining pools are safeguarded too.
“We will be in touch with Colin Beattie, MSP Midlothian North & Musselburgh, to share our concerns and will continue to do what we can to support our friends at TASC.”
Community groups, councillors and other politicians have backed pleas to find the money necessary to open the pool as soon as possible, with South Scotland MSP Craig Hoy saying that he “will be making representations to the Scottish and UK Governments to support the reopening of the pool”.
East Lothian MP Kenny MacAskill called for “everyone to get their heads together to see what can be done”.
Meanwhile, South Scotland MSP Martin Whitfield has written to Shona Robison MSP, cabinet secretary for finance, calling for Scottish Government funding to facilitate repairs.
Mr Whitfield wrote: “The swimming pool at the Loch Centre is a vital resource for the health and wellbeing of the local community in Tranent, and reopening it must be a priority.
“However, I understand that the £4 million-plus repair bill is an unforeseen extra cost that East Lothian Council simply cannot afford at this time.
“I know Ms Robison visited the county recently, so she should have a good understanding of the growth that has occurred here and the financial pressures the council is facing.
“With the Scottish budget coming up next month, I hope she’ll take the opportunity to give the county a much-needed funding boost.”
Mike Falconer, chair of the town’s community council, previously told the Courier that he would be speaking to community groups about starting a campaign calling for funding.
However, Mr Falconer’s fears that not enough was being done to find a resolution were eased by comments made by Councillor Colin McGinn at the November meeting of the group.
Mr McGinn said at the meeting: “Finding the funding to repair the Loch Centre is a key priority at the moment.
“I will reiterate what I have said previously, that I have held no discussions about the pool not reopening.
“I want to see the pool reopened as soon as possible and for it to be repaired in a way that gives us 25 years or more out of it.
“Work must be done to find the funds for this, but it is a key priority.”
After the meeting, Mr Falconer told the Courier: “I wanted to make sure that something was being done to address the problem.
“When we heard there was no available funding, there was a worry that the pool could remain closed indefinitely.
“I understand that this will be no quick fix, but I am confident from what I have heard that work is being done [to find a way forward].”
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