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Swimming Pool Row Will Not Go Away -Herts Advertiser pg 10- 21st October 2010.

posted 21 Oct 2010, 05:21 by David Gilroy   [ updated 23 Oct 2010, 13:50 ]
PoolTooSmall supporter, diver and Chartered Engineer Nicolas Haran has a wide ranging critique of the New Lodge scheme.
SIR-Before the emergency cabinet meeting on 10th August I wrote to various councillors raising concerns about the inadequate research and concerns about the long-term viability of this project. We have a steady stream of competent people criticising it for both function and finance. In discussion with Councillors Robert Donald,and Anthony Rowlands after the meeting I stressed that important concerns had not been addressed at the meeting. I agreed to put my concerns into writing. I delivered letters to them on 13th August 2010. Two months later I have not had any constructive comment back from them. 
This is the text (in all essentials ) of my letter to the councillors expressing my concerns.
I confirm that (in answer to  your enquiry to me at the end of the meeting)  that the topics were covered inadequately by Julie Simpson (the responsible council planning officer) during the emergency council meeting.
Topics covered inadequately were:
1) SOURCE STATISTICS.  helenhatan
Active People Survey  (Oct. 06 to Oct. 09) data , as reported in Westminster Lodge Swimming Pool - a Review, July 2010 ( sections 2.7 to 22.12), only considers swimmers who swim for at least half an hour, twice or more per week. Most of us with families and jobs only manage half of this and so (in my personal case) were excluded from the survey. The planning department has not carried out the most basic analysis of how people actually use Westminster Lodge. We have a major project going ahead based  on an underestimate of the number of swimmers.
2) BOARD DIVING OMITTED FROM ACTIVE PEOPLE SURVEY. It’s popular, there are almost always  queues for the diving boards. Overhead costs  to run them must be minimal, - why omit them from the new pool?
While there is more promised for beginners, toddlers, the elderly and the handicapped, there is much less for the competent adult swimmer. Adequate depth (i.e. over 2 metres depth) and length more than a school pool will not be available to us. Why not refurbish Westminster Lodge swimming pool? In these times of fiscal tightening that has to be an idea worth re-visiting.
REDUCED FLEXIBILITY. No councillor seems to have actually seen how easy it is to divide up the present 33  metre pool into different swimming activities. Diving and casual swimming do go on simultaneously, separated by a simple floating cord barrier across the width of the pool. The ASA (Amateur Swimming Association) has been consulted, and contrary to views expressed elsewhere, do approve of 33m pools.
 MONEY NUMBERS.  FISCAL RESTRAINT.  Let us wait and see how the Council budget has to be adapted to our penurious time.
6) NO DIVING BOARDS. Thank you for your comments (Councillor Robert Donald from the chair to me) that there is going to be  provision for diving boards . Please can you make sure that is minuted and gets into the brief to the contractor? I should be happy to discuss what is needed.
7) SKEWED VOTING  The options printout I have of the public discussion (Dated 21st July 2009 to 10th August 2009) shows one sheet of A4 devoted to Option 1, and two sheets for Option 2.  Option 2 has a glitzy landscaped view, which is lacking from Option 1 display. The presentation shown to the public display boards at Westminster Lodge and in the council offices showed the same  1  to  2  miss-matching of display areas.  The voting seems to have followed the proportions of the display areas or the glitzy landscaped view, rather than a thoughtful consideration of what the reader might need. 
8) SUCCESSFUL  PUBLIC MEETING. The good work done  by Councillor Daly’s  District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee. on 19th July 2010 has been overturned by the emergency council meeting. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommended that the number of lanes be increased from 8 to 10 lanes. This is a start. The proposed building is high enough to accommodate climbing walls so why not re-instate the very popular diving boards? These were a normal feature of any 1930s lido.  Why can’t we have them in our prestigious, new, facility?  Swimming and diving are very popular, and very healthful. 
9) COMMENTS on 10th August 2010 Emergency Council Meeting.
At last, it is on public record that we have insufficient swimming pool capacity, and cannot afford  the best.  Perhaps, if a comprehensive swimming survey had been done at the start, the present difficulties, and emergency council meetings, could have been avoided. 
The Contractors only respond to the brief they are given . So long as they stay in business long enough to move onto the next job that’s fine for them. If our brief to them is inadequate, or the contract lacks the means by which we can discipline them, then the contractors take us for a ride. We will have reduced main pool flexibility options (down to 2 options (slow lane swimming and teaching) from 3 options (diving, lane swimming, and teaching)). The new training pool will be similar to our present training pool - not suitable for adult overflow swimming.
We still have people who say “It is going to be like Westminster lodge - only better?”   Sadly you explain “No, just a school sized pool, without diving boards and only 2 metre maximum depth”.  I fear there’s going to be a lot of disappointed voters.
As a demonstration of democracy in action it has been most informative - I look forward to the discussion on Westminster Lodge swimming pool’s inadequate prior research continuing. Can the Council’s team demonstrate that the proposed facility will be financially viable? The Millennium Dome failed in part because of a gross over-estimate of the number of people who would come to use it. Will we have a Millennium Dome of a financial burden crushing St.Albans financially?
Have they taken into account the likely drop in customer support from the Abbey Theatre when it is accessed via the new Service Road? People new to the area claim that our theatre is difficult to find behind the trees - when hidden behind the new building it will be harder to find.
Nicolas Haran