Guinea Gap baths back in the swim

Wallasey Swimming Club make their voices heard during "strategic asset review" protests.

Wallasey Swimming Club make their voices heard during "strategic asset review" protests.

First published in News Wirral Globe: Photograph of the Author by , Editor

A MAJOR investment in Guinea Gap baths gets underway this month after a people-power campaign to keep the closure-threatened pool open.

The facility was earmarked for the axe in 2008 following a highly-controversial "strategic asset review" commissioned by Wirral Council's previous Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition - which also saw 11 of the borough's libraries slated to be shut.

A public outcry followed and now, with the authority under a new coalition adminstration led by the Conservatives, all plans to close Guinea Gap have been finally ditched.

A fund of £640,000 needed to keep Guinea Gap open was included in the council’s budget, and a further £113,600 is now being invested in new changing rooms and maintenance of pools.

Future plans include the installation of a combined heat and power generator which will be funded from energy savings.

Council leader Jeff Green said: “Let’s be quite clear about this – if it hadn’t been for the magnificent campaign by the people who know, use and love Guinea Gap, the place would now be a derelict plot of land.

"Not only are we 100% committed to keeping Guinea Gap open for the people of Wallasey and beyond, but we are investing extra cash to make it even better.

“The work about to begin is the result of all those people who stood up and were not afraid to put their hands up to oppose the closure plan.

"They deserve the credit for this.”

Seacombe councillor Denis Knowles, who crossed the floor from the Labour group to join the Tories in 2009, said: "This is a massive vote of confidence for the people of Seacombe and the wider community."

Refurbishment work will require the popular baths and recreation centre to be closed for around eight weeks, starting on May 3.

The council has also decided it will maintain free swimming for the under-16s during term time, for pensioners anytime and to extend free access to the borough’s armed forces' personnel.

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