Hundreds sign petition to save Baths

HUNDREDS of people have signed a petition to keep Wombwell Swimming Baths open.

Since the Times revealed three weeks ago that the pool, on Hough Lane, was under threat a campaign has swung in to action in a bid to keep the premises open.

Wombwell councillor Dick Wraith signed the petition, saying it would be “a tragedy” for the town to lose a facility dating back to Victorian times.

The pool has recently added a gym, and is used by up to seven schools for swimming lessons, with around 300 members within its swimming club and a similar number using the gym.

But management company BPL Leisure has said it cannot afford to keep the facility – and two others in the borough – running, unless its budget is increased by Barnsley Council.

Mr Wraith said: “It’s tragic that this situation should even come about, but Wombwell has been under threat for some time, because it is an old building and costly to run.

“It is still well-used. At one time we held council meetings in the upstairs room. No-one wants to see the town lose such a facility. But these are sorry times, and we are seeing all kinds of casualties.”

Cabinet spokesperson Coun Roy Miller said: “Any decision to close leisure facilities would never be taken lightly.

“Given the Government’s decision to cut public expenditure and pressures on the budgets of councils and charitable organisations such as BPL, such difficult decisions become unavoidable.

“The three sites earmarked to close would cost more than £1.5 million over the next five years just to keep operating at their current levels, and this does not take into account any further deterioration in terms of building standards or user numbers. Closure of these sites will allow a focus on increasing participation at the remaining sites and help relieve the ongoing budgetary pressures.

“Current users of the facilities will have alternative options and sites clearly explained to them.”

Penistone Leisure Centre and Athersley Leisure Centre are also under threat.