‘Change in pool times could be end of our club’

FIGHTING: Campaigners fighting to save Knottingley Sports Centre from closure.

FIGHTING: Campaigners fighting to save Knottingley Sports Centre from closure.

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Volunteers at a swimming club say it could be forced to fold if planned cuts to its pool time and space go ahead.

Knottingley Swimming Club has been run by volunteers from the town’s sports centre for 45 years.

But it could be forced to relocate to Pontefract, if the leisure centre closes down in January.

A draft timetable for Pontefract’s pool, drawn up by Wakefield Council, indicates that the number of hours and lanes allocated to the club would be reduced after the move.

And members say the change could leave the club fighting for space and make it impossible for its volunteer teachers to get to classes on time.

Tracy MacInnes, who has been a volunteer for more than 20 years, said: “Basically, the club won’t be able to function.

“The teachers can’t get there earlier than 6pm on weekdays as we are all voluntary and have work commitments during the day.

“And a lot of the children won’t be able to get there before then too.

“It would fold the club, we won’t have a club left.”

She said members had gone back to the council to see if it could re-look at the timetable, adding: “Even on a quiet night we have anywhere between 25 and 30 swimmers from age eight to 45.

“They would all have to fit in to two swimming lanes. There just won’t be the time and space for us to carry on.”

The council is proposing to replace the current leisure facilities in Castleford, Knottingley and Pontefract, which it says are outdated and expensive to run, with a new £14.8m leisure centre in Pontefract Park.

Under the plans, the sports centres in Castleford and Knottingley, would close in January while the existing Pontefract Pool would shut around the time the new centre opens.

The council is now considering feedback from a consultation on the plans.

Karen Collins, service director for culture and sport said: “We have met with all the groups and clubs to try and find out what they would like from any new timetabling.

“The more information the clubs provided the more we were able to try and meet their requirements.

“We would like to thank people for working with us and being flexible.

“Although this has resulted in some clubs taking reduced lanes it has enabled us to accommodate as many users as possible.”

She confirmed they would look again at the proposed timetable to try to meet the requirements of Knottingley Swimming Club.

Pontefract, Castleford and Knottingley MP Yvette Cooper said she was “urging” the council to save the current sports facilities. She said: “Lots of people have told me how they won’t be able to all fit into Pontefract pool after Christmas.

“And in Knottingley I’ve talked to community groups who are interested in running the sports centre. The council needs to work with these groups to keep services open not rush to close them down.”

A public meeting to discuss the closure of the Knottingley centre, arranged by users of the facility, will take place at 8pm tonight at Kellingley Social Club.