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Purley pool closure 'will threaten annual swimathon', says organiser

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THE planned closure of Purley Pool could force the end of a charity event which has helped raise more than £400,000 for worthy causes since its foundation, according to its organiser.

Tony Farrell, who runs the annual Purley Swimathon event, said it may cease after 2015 if a suitable alternative venue could not be found.

Next year's swimathon will take place on two days - February 28 and March 5 - before the pool's closure from April 1 as part of the council's plan to save £780,000 on its upkeep next year, unveiled in budget cuts a fortnight ago.

But Mr Farrell said its future beyond that is now uncertain.

"The abysmal thing is the lack of notice they have given, that we have only just heard about the closure," he said.

"There's a likelihood we're going to have to find a new venue - we're being pushed out.

"We're raised more than £400,000 over the years, if we can't get a suitable alternative venue then we're losing that.

"We want to carry on, but the closure may be forcing us in another direction.

Mr Farrell said the brand new Waddon Leisure Centre, touted as a suitable alternative serving the south by Council leader Tony Newman, would not be suitable for the event.

"Waddon is on a bad road junction, there's no car parking and there isn't a proper viewing platform."

When the planned closure of the pool was discussed during last Wednesday's council scrutiny meeting, Cllr Newman said a new report showed the pool was in urgent need of repairs, and it would cost "many millions more" than the 2015/16 saving of £780,000 to keep it open for future years.

The closure of the pool would help pave the way for the "much-needed" regeneration of Purley's town centre while discussions were under way to find alternatives for school swimming lessons, he added.

Purley Conservative councillor Simon Brew and his two colleagues Donald Speakman and Bashar Quadir, were called upon by Mr Farrell to "stand up and be counted" and deliver on past promises made to save the pool.

Councillor Brew, who was elected in May, said he was "extremely concerned at the potential loss" of the "much loved community facility".

He added: "Waddon Leisure Centre may be 2.2 miles away but from Purley it's only served by the 289 bus which runs every 15 minutes.

"Parking spaces at Waddon are already inadequate, they would be even more inadequate if the leisure centre had to absorb all of Purley's pool users, and this makes it infeasible for residents in Kenley, Coulsdon and Sanderstead to consider switching to Waddon.

"There is also a wider issue about the damage that closure of the pool would inflict on local businesses in Purley High Street and the Brighton Road, as a result of the substantially reduced footfall.

"This effect is particularly unfortunate as it comes at the time when the Purley Business Improvement District team has just won some GLA funding for a scheme to re-invigorate the Purley District Centre."

Councillor Newman told the Advertiser the new report into the state of the pool would be published this week.

Purley pool closure 'will threaten annual swimathon', says organiser


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