Arthhur Hill Memorial Swimming Pool in Reading

A 104-year-old swimming pool has closed after a council said it could no longer afford to repair the building.

Reading Borough Council had said it would need to spend £700,000 to bring the Arthur Hill Memorial Baths up to standard.

The authority said it would sell the building to help pay for a new facility in the area in about four years.

However, campaigners have now set up a community interest group in a bid to reopen the pool.

Phil Vaughan, who has been a regular at the baths for 15 years, said he hoped the group would attract grants to fund a reopening.

He said the council had agreed not to drain the pool for a few months.

“We pay taxes, we are entitled to some community benefits,” he added.

2020 update

Plans have been submitted to renovate a derelict swimming bath as flats for key workers.

Reading Borough Council said construction could start at the former Arthur Hill swimming pool in Cemetery Junction in the new year, if approved.

It comes as council plans to news build two new pools in the town have stalled following the 1911-built pool’s controversial closure in 2016.

The Arthur Hill Campaign said it was more cost-effective to revamp the site.

Under the plans, the listed frontage of the building in Kings Road will be retained and it will house 12 one-bed and three two-bed flats.

Nurses, social workers, teachers and police officers would all be eligible to rent the council-owned flats at 80% of market rental rates.

The council said the 15 affordable flats would help to tackle the affordable housing crisis.

But Peter Burt, of the Arthur Hill Campaign, said there was still a demand for the building as a swimming pool, which sits on land donated to the council for community use.

It comes as Reading Borough Council is set to pay out a £410,000 bailout to leisure operator Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), which had been awarded a contract to build new pools at Rivermead and Palmer Park.

The non-profit company has said it now wants to wait until spring 2021 to sign the contract amid Covid-19 uncertainty.

The council said the bailout would ensure the survival of the Rivermead Leisure Centre.

Mr Burt added: “In our view the council’s strategy is a complete dog’s breakfast.”

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