Future of Quarry Leisure Centre

Update – 2018 – (Still Waiting For) Good News!

*** After nearly 5 years we await presentation to Shropshire Council Cabinet of a report into the options for the future of the Quarry pool complex – roll on December 2018 ***

This latest development in the history, both ancient & modern, of Shrewsbury’s pools follows a change of leadership at Shropshire Council & 2017’s May local elections. The proposal to relocate Shrewsbury’s swimming facilities to the edge-of-town Leisure Village (SSV) was replaced with an intention to investigate town centre alternatives:
https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/shrewsbury/2017/06/07/alternative-sites-being-looked-at-for-shrewsbury-pool/

Keep an eye on the Quarry Forum site for more updates.

Summary

Around Christmas 2013, Shropshire Council announced it wanted to demolish the Quarry pool & build a five star hotel. The local MP made noises about how dirty & unsuitable the centre was, and wouldn’t a nice new hotel & spa be lovely?

A bunch of pool users, mostly swimmers, met with the MP, who started making different noises. And the Lib Dems got in on the act and started an online petitition.

Other groups were setup and a paper petition did the rounds gather 3,000 signatures which was used to gain access to the Shropshire councillors & see what they say directly.

Meanwhile, in January 2014 there were 28,000 visits to the Quarry centre (7.5k to the gym/fitness centre & the rest to the 4 pools). There are around 38 schools reportedly using the facilities; with the two bigger pools (25m Priory & 33m Quarry) solidly booked most weekday evenings by clubs for competitive & leisure swimming, sub-aqua, as well as canoeing & canoe polo.

In 2014 Councillor Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s then portfolio holder & cabinet member for leisure said:
The Quarry Swimming and Fitness Centre is coming to the end of its life and its replacement is something that has long been aspired to by both the former Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council (SABC) and Shropshire Council, subject to funding being available.
However, it’s important to make clear that no money was set aside by SABC for the replacement of the swimming centre.
Shropshire Council wants to provide people with the best possible swimming and leisure facilities. Unfortunately in the current financial climate there is no money available at the moment for the replacement of the swimming centre in Shrewsbury and we have no current plans to close the centre.

{My emphasis}
https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2014/01/17/no-cash-set-aside-for-replacement-shrewsbury-leisure-centre/

Now consider this against the timeline below…

History

Ancient

120-130 CE/AD

There have been public swimming baths in Shrewsbury for a long time, starting with the Roman baths at Wroxeter/Viroconium (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viroconium_Cornoviorum) but even then things took time, as they’d been started 50 years previously and were only completed in 130AD during the Hadrianic period.

And apparently dedicated to: “BONO REI PVBLICAE NATVS”.
The old Roman is often translated as: Born for the good of the state
but I prefer to read it: “For the benefit of the children of the republic.”

1894

After a break of some 1500 years, the English were again persuaded that bathing was a “Good Thing“, with the first pre-Victorian municipal baths of the being built in Liverpool in 1829. It took  over 50 years & the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria before the Jubilee Baths were built in 1894, paid for by public subscription: http://quarrypool.uk/history

It was a bit of hit with the locals: http://shropshire.gov.uk/news/2016/07/rare-photos-and-documents-show-history-of-shrewsbury-swimming-baths/
After another 75 years the three pools making up the baths were enveloped by a new structure housing a 33 metre ‘International” pool…

1969

The modern pool complex was built & opened in 1969 – boasting four pools, including the 33m “International”, 81°F (27°C) water, and all for only 20 new pence:Quarry-pool-opening-1969-12-crop

Modern Timeline

2009

Shrewsbury & Atcham Borough Council is merged into Shropshire Council:
http://shropshire.gov.uk/shropshire-council/
…but did they leave £10million+ earmarked for a new pool or was it contingency funding & got spent on the Theatre Severn & Shrewsbury Museum?

2010

Options had been drawn up before the transition from SABC to SC:
http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2010/07/20/sports-village-to-replace-shrewsburys-quarry-pool/

“Three options have previously been suggested including a refurbishment of the Quarry pool costing about £9.6 million, a demolition and rebuild for about £7.75 million or building an
“out of town” site at a cost of about £7.6 million”

2012

Shropshire Council outsources most of its pools & leisure centres to Serco:
http://www.serco.com/media/pressreleases/2012/Shropshireleisure.asp

2013

December 6 – Shropshire Council wants other people to spend money:
http://shropshire.gov.uk/invest-in-shropshire/investment-opportunities/new-five-star-hotel/
though the date on the PDF is 31/10/2013, over a month earlier.

But by complete coincidence the very same day Daniel Kawczynski, MP Shrewsbury & Atcham, kicks off the publicity:
http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2013/12/07/mp-calls-for-five-star-hotel-at-site-of-shrewsbury-swimming-pool/

Shropshire Council announced last month that it was on the hunt for a developer who could bring a top class hotel to the economy of Shrewsbury.
Today MP Daniel Kawczynski has called for the site of the current Quarry leisure centre to be used – and the council has admitted that it could be an option.
“I feel very strongly about The Quarry,” Mr Kawczynski said. “That 1970s swimming pool is a travesty for The Quarry and such a central part of Shrewsbury.

And draws some immediate response:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shropshire-needs-a-Competition-Swimming-Pool-it-can-be-proud-of/143075940380780

And some not so immediate ones:
Simon Wilderspin requested FoI report into Shrewsbury Quarry Swimming Pool funding, which was answered on 23 January 2014. In summary:
For financial year 2013/14 year Shropshire council budgeted £258,520 for Serco to operate the centre & £30,000 for repairs and maintenance.

Although, I don’t think these two bods really agree:
http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2013/12/23/club-chairman-backs-mps-plans-for-new-shrewsbury-swimming-pool/

2014 H1

http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2014/01/06/letter-disappointed-by-remarks-about-shrewsbury-swimming-and-fitness-centre/

http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2014/01/09/group-launches-bid-to-save-shrewsburys-quarry-swimming-pool/

http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2014/01/17/no-cash-set-aside-for-replacement-shrewsbury-leisure-centre/

http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2014/01/21/call-for-debate-on-shrewsbury-swimming-pool-future/
Daniel Kawczynski said recent conversations with local swimmers have highlighted the need for the town’s current facilities to be improved. It comes as he asks county swimmers to contribute to a new report about the centre.

Report from Dylan Tomlinson, SCC polo rep, 2014-02-12:
This evening I attended a pool users interest group at the Quarry hosted by Shropshire Community Leisure Trust. This is the organisation setup by Shropshire Council to manage 5 leisure centres & is now run by Serco. The very constructive meeting was run by Rhys Collins & Penelope Benge for Serco, who will be distrbuting minutes.

There was discussion about prices & costs (see below), as well as the status of the trust {apparently not yet finalised?}. They confirmed that while there are maintenance issues, the pool temperatures are kept at 28-29C & had not been turned down. The pool management took on-board a bunch of suggestions around how people use the facilities; leisure requirements for younger & older people; competition requirements (specifically from the ASA); logging issues & reporting on progress; signage & parking info; club bookings; cafe & catering facilities. And they said they’d investigate the ideas around improving the appearance of the pools. I have the full list but I’ll await the minutes & the date of the next meeting in May.

http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2014/02/03/shropshire-leisure-centres-set-to-be-run-by-private-firms/
It is now intended that the running of the council’s other leisure centres will be put out to tender, although the buildings will remain in council ownership.
It is hoped the change could save more than £550,000 for the council.
A total of £118,000 is earmarked to be saved next year through the review of leisure facilities, more than £205,000 in 2015/16 and over £225,000 in 2016/17.

http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2014/02/11/mps-shopping-centre-solution-to-shrewsbury-swimming-pool-woes/

http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2014/02/12/shrewsbury-pool-replacement-is-ministers-priority/
MP Mrs Grant, minister for sport, tourism and equalities, has now replied to MEP Dr Bennion’s letter and said the Government and Sport England were aware of the issues around the swimming pool. She said: “I would like to reassure you that the issues surrounding Quarry Pool in Shropshire have already been drawn to our attention. “The strategy has identified the replacement of the Quarry Pool as a major priority and Shropshire Council is currently looking at the feasibility of providing a replacement pool in Shrewsbury.”

2014 H2

The Quarry Swimming & Fitness Forum has created a survey to feed into the Shropshire Council’s options paper. Go on and spend 3-4 minutes filling it in now to demonstrate your support for the pool & local community, and keep an eye out for the consultation early in 2015.
The QSFF public meeting on Thursday, 27 November 2014, reported on the current state of discussions with Shropshire Council. They have now expanded the potential options to around six but agreed to take input from a public survey.
Shropshire Council meeting, Wednesday, 30 July 2014, approved the pool options report (PDF):
In broad terms there are four different options for future swimming provision in Shrewsbury:
1.  The status quo – whilst an option it is recognised this will be unlikely to sustain swimming provision within Shrewsbury in the medium term
2.  A major refurbishment and renovation of the existing facility
3.  Rebuild on the existing site – If this was undertaken there would be no swimming provision for the duration of the build (possibly up to 2 years)
4.  New build on a new site, either stand alone or alongside an existing leisure facility or other community facility
http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2014/10/12/loss-of-swimming-pool-would-be-a-blow-to-town-centre-says-councillor/
Latest LJC meeting at Guildhall in Frankwell, 7pm Monday, 20 October 2014, confirmed the Shropshire Council’s target outcome to half the water area of any replacement:
http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2014/10/21/shrewsburys-quarry-swimming-centre-could-lose-half-its-pools/

2015

https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2015/02/09/options-for-shrewsburys-quarry-swimming-pool-to-be-put-to-the-public-what-do-you-think/
Consultation was eventually opened in April with a 600-page PDF, which got the numbers wrong: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-shropshire-34137405

After consultation finally closed in September, with a formal response & infographic from the Quarry Swimming & Fitness Forum, there was an October march, with added canoes:
https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2015/10/19/campaigners-hail-large-turnout-for-shrewsbury-quarry-pool-rally/

2016

After more delays with the consulation process, there was a July march, as reported by the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-shropshire-36693451 & in the press
https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2016/06/21/rally-in-last-ditch-bid-to-keep-shrewsburys-quarry-swimming-pool/

Which didn’t affect the decision at the Shropshire Council meeting on July 13:

Mr West said: “We’ve given an option to interested parties, interested organisations, to come forward with a business case that will enable us to keep it here.”
“We’ve given them up to 12 months to actually formulate that business case, which I think is a fair time.”

2017

With 12 months to come up with an alternative proposal, Shrewsbury Town Council took up the banner, then got stood up:
https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/shrewsbury/2017/06/07/alternative-sites-being-looked-at-for-shrewsbury-pool/
but not before they’d spent £3,000 on consultants, albeit only 1/4 of the £12,000 they’d ear-marked for the bid:
https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/shrewsbury/2017/08/30/shrewsbury-town-council-spends-3000-on-cancelled-pool-plan/

So with well over £100,000 spent by Shropshire & Shrewsbury councils we awaited further news … which came at the end of the year with a bang – of shattering glass:
https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/shrewsbury/2018/01/01/shrewsbury-pool-closed-after-window-is-shattered/

2018

In January the new(ish) Shropshire Council Leader announces “We are minded to redevelop on the current site.”:
https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/shrewsbury/2018/01/05/shrewsburys-swimming-pool-looks-set-to-remain-in-the-quarry/

Fortunately the pool re-opened, along with a refurbished diving board https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/shrewsbury/2018/02/22/main-shrewsbury-quarry-pool-to-ready-to-reopen-this-weekend/

Letters were written https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/voices/readers-letters/2018/07/03/we-voted-to-keep-our-pool-where-it-is/ & a report was prepared but despite many false dawns it has not yet been put before Cabinet. Dates in June, July, August, and the autumn have come & gone, so the current target is December – 5 years after the start of the current saga.

What the report actually contains is not yet known but with the latest delay being to take feedback from September’s Big Town Plan consultation
https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/shrewsbury/2018/08/08/quarry-pool-decision-delayed-again-for-big-town-plan-results/
though it seems that there wasn’t any specific mention of an alternative town centre site for a pool in the 40-page PDF.

Breaking news – AdMag in scoop with Shrewsbury Town Council Leader, Alan Mosely – Quarry pool to stay in the Quarry!  2018-09-27 pictures to follow…

Finally … what will 2019 bring?

Thanks for reading this far – as you might have noticed, the Quarry Centre is still open for business – go & use it … or lose it!

That’s all for now, but enjoy the digesting all this & give kudos to the Shropshire Star’s reporting, then watch this space…

(Page reinstated October 2014 from http://archive.org – some links may require updating)

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