Derbyshire has got its first new swimming pool for 25 years thanks to the actions of some community minded locals.
Gayton pool opened in January 2011 after residents in Littleover campaigned to keep their local pool open. The result was a new £1 million pool which has enabled local residents and children to benefit from a range of swimming lessons.
The success of Gayton pool demonstrates what can happen when communities come together and take over the running of a service from the local authority. The Localism Bill will give communities the right to challenge their council on decisions that directly affect them and enable local residents to take charge of their community to run services themselves.
Built and paid for in the 1970s the original pool was closed in 2007 after years of neglect and a lack of funds to pay for vital maintenance costs.
In response, local residents set up the Blagreaves Community Action Group. Gayton Community Association, who had a hand in the original building of the pool, launched a legal challenge against the council, claiming that the building’s lease obliged the authority to take action.
The dedication of local residents, some of whom even remortgaged their homes to raise enough funds to take the case to court, paid off as the association won the case. This resulted in the council demolishing the old pool and building a brand new one.
Operation of the pool is now community based as Gayton Pool Limited, a subsidiary of Lonsdale Swimming and Sports Trust, has won a 5 year contract to run and manage the pool on behalf of the council.
Ian Cotter, Chairman, Lonsdale Swimming and Sports Trust and Managing Director of Gayton Pool Limited explained how the new pool was already making a difference to the local community;
“The new Gayton pool is a marvellous facility for the local community and will enable many more to learn to swim and take part in water activities.
“The main focus at Gayton will be on swimming lessons and schools use. We have been operating the pool now for 3 months and we have over 400 children learning to swim every week amongst the 800 people who are using it. Those who campaigned hard for the pool can now see the fruits of their labours in the success of it at such an early stage.”
The pool has made a splash in the local community and has proved to be a resounding success, offering a range of swimming lessons for adults and children, aqua fit classes, family sessions and splash parties.
Gayton Community Association have shown the positive outcomes that can be achieved when a community challenges their council on the decisions that directly affect them.
More images of Gayton pool are available from our Flickr channel