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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Carlisle sports masterplan needs to focus on pools

Swimming provision for children should be at the forefront of a new sporting masterplan, it has been claimed.

Trinity School headteacher Alan Mottershead photo
Alan Mottershead

Alan Mottershead, the headteacher of Trinity School in Carlisle, says the city council’s strategy for bringing sporting facilities up to scratch must factor in the needs of primary school pupils in learning to swim.

His call comes after it was revealed that the pool at the Richard Rose Central Academy is due to close within weeks.

United Learning, which runs the academy on Victoria Place, Carlisle, made the decision after discovering that the aging facility needs tens of thousands of pounds to be spent on it.

The move has left hundreds of primary schoolchildren high and dry as many swimming lessons are held there.

Mr Mottershead said that as soon as he heard the news staff at the Trinity School’s swimming pool were put on alert to expect an influx of new users.

He is now calling on city council leaders to ensure future facilities will be able to cope.

Mr Mottershead said: “My feeling is that the closure of the Central Academy pool is action they feel has to be taken independently of anything else.

“The creation at some point of a new 25m pool at The Sands will lead to the closure of The Pools at James Street.

“So they must factor in how many hours of swimming will be available to primary schools.

“They are trying to encourage more people to go swimming but we have now gone from three to two school pools, which sharpens the situation more.”

There’s a legal obligation on primary schools to teach all children to swim.

About 15 primary schools are believed to be affected by the impending closure of the pool at Central Academy.

And Carlisle Sure Start Children’s Centres occasionally run classes at the pool at weekends. Active Cumbria, which works with local authorities to deliver sporting programmes, said it was unable to comment on the closure.

But a spokeswoman said the organisation has been working closely with Carlisle City Council on its sports strategy. The authority is recommending spending around £16m on the city’s current sports centres to make Carlisle more active and healthy over the next decade.

The report recommends upgrading facilities at the Sands Centre and providing a new eight-lane swimming pool, a large teaching pool and a new sports hall.

Harraby Leisure Centre is also recommended for a makeover as well as hosting new Astro Turf football pitches.

There are also suggestions for a 1km track dedicated to cycling, a cricket and gymnastics centre and a new fitness centre in the city.

The report warns that current facilities do not meet demand, which is rising as population levels increase.

It also raised concerns about the quality of the swimming pools at The Pools in James Street, Trinity School and the Central and Morton academies.

Council leader Colin Glover said: “We knew some pools needed investment but I wasn’t aware the closure of the pool at the Central Academy was so imminent.

“It means we have to focus our minds on investing in high-quality facilities for future generations in so many different ways.

“But this is being made much more difficult when we are in the tight financial situation we are in. We can’t wait for things to get better – we need to be proactive.”

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