De Lacy Academy in Knottingley 'could host new swimming pool', councillor suggests

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A secondary school could be the venue for a new town swimming pool, one local councillor has suggested.

Knottingley Sports Centre closed in February 2017, and with it the area’s swimming baths.

Wakefield Council is building a new £20m leisure centre at Pontefract Park, which it says will have the facilities to serve all of the Five Towns.

But Councillor Tom Gordon has criticised the project and has mooted the idea of De Lacy Academy, in Knottingley, hosting a new community pool.

The local authority has agreed to meet with the school to talk about the proposal.

Coun Gordon said: “Knottingley Sports Centre was the focal point and centre of our town. It was home to the library, gym, swimming pool and indoor sports facilities. We need to start rebuilding and the local secondary school and Council working in partnership to provide local facilities would be a great way to achieve this.

“The new leisure centre in Pontefract is already over budget and behind schedule, with the increase of £6 million in costs you could have built a new smaller leisure centre for Knottingley - like the one in Minsthorpe.”

"The cost of a 25m pool can be as little as £1.5 million. If the Council could find an extra £6 million for Pontefract Leisure Centre without any problem, I'm sure they can find this relatively small amount of money for Knottingley if they wanted to.”

Speaking in response at a full council meeting on Wednesday, the council’s Cabinet member for leisure, Jacquie Speight said: “We will talk to the school.

“We did try to go down this route before because we looked at trying to deliver a community pool that way, but it didn’t work out because the school realised they couldn’t manage revenue costs.

That’s where we get into difficulty. “I get your point about having pools in different places, I really do.”

Coun Speight also said that visitor numbers to the old Knottingley Leisure Centre were comparatively low, and that this meant that running costs could not be afforded at that time.

Outside of the meeting, Coun Speight denied that the new Five Towns leisure centre was over-priced or late.

She said: "The state-of-the art Five Towns Leisure and Wellbeing Hub is neither behind schedule nor over the budget allocated by Cabinet, which was increased in 2018 largely to meet the increased specification requested through a detailed consultation.

“The scale of the development has been designed, to meet all the current and latent demand across the next 15 years, using Sport England modelling which includes projections for population growth across the whole area."