£6.3m leisure centre joy for Rasen... but where’s the pool?

Children can have a splash in other swimming pools in the area,,, but not in Rasen. Picture: Jubilee Park swimming pool, Woodhall Spa.
Children can have a splash in other swimming pools in the area,,, but not in Rasen. Picture: Jubilee Park swimming pool, Woodhall Spa.

You would think confirmation a new £6.3m leisure centre is coming to Market Rasen would delight everyone.

The state-of-the-art centre will feature a sports hall, a multi-use area, and a 3G outdoor pitch.

Rasen residents have pointed out the fact that other  towns, such as Louth, have leisure centre facilities including  a pool. Picture: Meridian Leisure Centre swimming pool, Louth

Rasen residents have pointed out the fact that other towns, such as Louth, have leisure centre facilities including a pool. Picture: Meridian Leisure Centre swimming pool, Louth

In times of cutbacks, it is something of a coup for the town.

No wonder councillors from all parties are cooing at the prospect.

But, when it comes to the list of facilities, many people are pointing out there’s one important item missing - a swimming pool.

Perhaps the town’s MP Sir Edward Leigh sums up the feeling of many.

He says: “The investment in Market Rasen is absolutely fantastic.

“However, I am very disappointed, like a number of local residents, that the council’s plans don’t include a swimming pool.”

Sir Edward has swum in the ‘deep end’ of politics for long enough to know that the reason a pool has been left out is money.

He added: “I understand that local government has taken a significant reduction in funding from central government grants over this decade, so it may not be possible to include a swimming pool at the current time.

“But, I think it would be folly if the new facility is not future-proofed so that a swimming pool can be developed in the future.

“I will continue to support any efforts to develop a swimming pool to serve Market Rasen and the surrounding area.”

So, hope for the future then.

The town council has already given its backing to the new leisure centre.

Mayor Coun John Matthews said last week: “They (West Lindsey) have recognised the need for a facility like this to support the people of the town and the surrounding area and the provision of significant financial investment can only help local employment and our local enconomy.”

His views are backed by district councillor Thomas Smith who said: “The investment in Market Rasen is absolutely fantastic.

“In respect of the lack of a swimming pool I can understand the disappointment, but the cost of running a swimming pool would make the running costs unviable.”

The Rasen Mail asked residents and shoppers what they thought.

Rasen resident Michelle Stanley agreed that a leisure centre is a good investment for the area.

Ms Stanley said: “I think it would be very good for the local area and the local people.

“I just hope that they remember about the teenagers and the younger people in the community, and that it is not just about adults going to the gym.”

Jenny Johnson also welcomed the announcement, but added: “I feel that a leisure centre should have a swimming pool.”

Brian Hill, from Caistor, said: “If they are spending that much money it is not going to be hard (to build a swimming pool).”

“It doesn’t have to be a big pool does it? Olympic style? It could just be a swimming pool.”

Shopper Sue Oglesby said it would be ‘lovely to have a pool and added: “I think it would be good for all age groups, young and old, and very beneficial.”

Several people pointed out the district council have been supposedly saving for a swimming pool for the last 40 years.

Others made reference to towns in West and East Lindsey which have swimming facilities and asked why Rasen had been left out.

One woman who asked not be named said: “Wragby has one, Louth has one, we’ve got nothing in Rasen.”

Business owners have also had their say on the new leisure centre.

Bridget Pitman-Brand has been the owner of Market Rasen Pet Centre, in Queen Street, for 17 years.

She said: “I think it is cracking and brilliant for Rasen, but there is no point in spending the money here and doing it unless they are going to include a swimming pool.

“It is a waste of money if they don’t.

“Unless they put a swimming pool in, they may as well give the money to Gainsborough as normal.”

Darren Lince owns the Advocate Arms, in Queen Street, and feels that the benefits of a swimming pool in terms of visitors has been missed.

Mr Lince said: “Every leisure centre with a pool has more visitors for swimming than anything else and whilst I understand the cost issues of having a swimming pool, I just think it is so short sighted to go ahead and complete a ‘dry’ facility when some extra funds would see the visitors triple if it was a dry and wet facility.”

West Lindsey District Council is adamant the right decision has been made.

A spokeswoman said: “The council has conducted a full feasibility study into the provision of leisure facilities across the whole of the district.

“This focused on both an assessment of need and whether facilities could be provided that did not require an ongoing subsidy.

“The study highlighted the fact that a dry leisure centre was commercially viable in Market Rasen, whereas a pool facility was not at this time.

“The feasibility study took into account the proximity of other pool facilities together with the likely construction, ongoing running costs and associated income.

“The current leisure proposals will transform the leisure service and provide a much needed facility for residents of Market Rasen and the surrounding area.

“In turn, surplus income will be generated which will relieve the pressure on other council services in light of the reductions in government funding.”