FIRST hints that Purley pool may not close as soon as expected have emerged this week.
Speaking after meeting campaigners on Tuesday, council leader Tony Newman said every option for the short and medium term future of the pool would be examined in detail.
But he warned: "I think everybody accepts that due to under-investment for many years it is a case of when, not if, the pool closes."
Cllr Newman said he had no doubts about the passion of those campaigning for the pool and hopes a constructive outcome would arise from this week's discussions.
He suggested that further indications about the council's thinking on the pool's future could be revealed at Monday's full council when a protest petition calling for it to be saved will be debated by councillors.
The council announced in December the pool would close in April, saving £1 million.
Cllr Newman said keeping the pool functioning in the next financial year would cost £780,000, topped up with another £200,000 running costs.
That would prove too expensive at a time when the council faced having to make massive savings, while maintaining frontline services, he added.
The council backed up its argument with a survey which found the roof was leaking, the mechanical plant was "at the end of its operating life" and that essential sand filters had not been replaced for 14 years, twice as long as their recommended statutory life.
The report from council contractor Interserve concluded that, unless major replacement work on boilers, heating system and roof took place within the next year, "the property will not be able to function in its current capacity."
The closure announcement provoked a huge local reaction resulting in 6,000 people signing the petition against closure organised by the Save Purley Pool campaign.
The council's scrutiny committee stepped into the row, recommending that another detailed report should be produced by the council before any final closure decision was taken.
Fred Wallis, of the Save Purley Pool campaign, will present the petition to the council on Monday. He said: "I think a fantastic job has been done in collecting 6,000 signatures in less than a month." He said he felt the campaigners had received a "warm" reception from Cllr Newman.
Mr Wallis said: "We asked him if there could be a stay of execution for the pool until the bulldozers for the planned Purley regeneration project move in."
They also urged the council to examine every possible way of obtaining grants or other money to finance the pool.
Mr Wallis said: "The pool is a lifeline for many people in the south of the borough and we hope common sense prevails."