York’s Liberal Democrats secure future of local swimming pool

York swimming pool successAs I wrote on this site previously, here in York we recently entered into a joint administration with the local Conservative group to run the city. This has posed us with the large challenge of ensuring that our distinctive voice is heard locally and that we deliver on our promises to residents at a very difficult time for local government.

In the run up to the election we made it a key manifesto promise to protect Yearsley Pool, a valued community facility, from Labour’s proposed local cuts.  We then also managed to secure this as a key priority for the Joint Executive.

I am now really pleased that we have now been able to deliver on this promise and have secured the long term future of this much loved community facility. We have put in place a clear commitment to Yearsley Swimming Pool, as part of the councils 13 year leisure contract – ensuring its future well beyond the next local elections.

This Edwardian facility was gifted to York’s citizens in 1909 by Rowntree & Co Ltd and has provided over 100 years of faithful public service towards the health, fitness, and sporting talent.  It is not only a vital community asset; it is a national treasure and deserves to be valued for all it provides.  Standing at 50 Yards long the Pool is York’s only large, long length pool. This makes it the best pool for clubs, endurance and fitness swimming. Saving community facilities like this is an example of the unique voice Liberal Democrats can bring to local government.

Last year the Labour Cabinet brought forward plans to cut the £250,000 annual subsidy given to Yearsley Pool from 2016/17 leading to concerns that the pool would close. A petition backed by the Liberal Democrats gained over 6,600 signatures. This is an example of a strong local issue which we have been able to support with residents to make a difference in their lives. The pool is hugely valued by residents and it should never have been threatened with closure by Labour in the first place.

The Yearsley Pool Action Group (YPAG) has worked with us throughout our attempts to save their local facility and have been provided enormous support. The Yearsley Pool Action Group said after our announcement securing the long term future of the pool:

Councillor Keith Aspden of the Liberal Democrats deserves special praise… Keith has been the main driver of this support process. He initiated the scrutiny review and has been unwavering in his efforts to help safeguard this unique and valuable facility.

A report now going to York’s Executive this month will confirm our clear long-term commitment to the future of the pool as part of a new leisure contract which also includes York’s new Community Stadium. The pool will now be included in a deal with GLL (Greenwich Leisure Limited) which as part of the 13 year leisure contract.

Another key Liberal Democrat success in York has been a dramatic increase in the powers and funding available to local residents through Ward Committees. Under our plans nearly £1 Million will be devolved to communities. Re-establishing these Ward Committees was another key part of the Liberal Democrat manifesto and something I am pleased that we have delivered.

Over the next four years we can not lose sight of what we can offer to local residents by listening and working with them.

* Keith Aspden has been the Councillor for Fulford Ward in York since 2003 and for Fulford and Heslington Ward since 2015. He was elected Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group in May 2013 and is now Executive Member for Economic Development and Community Engagement.

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