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After decades of Labour not investing in the EPIC, people very much welcome this £15million Sports Village for the town.” said Conservative Councillor, Bob Crompton, in whose Whitby ward the proposed new sports village will be built.
Bob, who is also Chairman of Brio, the Community Interest Company set up by the Council to manage west Cheshire’s leisure services, told the council’s Executive meeting:
“Ellesmere Port & Neston Borough Council made a start on this in 2008. Consultants reported in 2009 recommending three options… the proposal which was chosen to go forward at that time was the largest option, this being a 25 metre pool, the best option for Ellesmere Port and the best option for ongoing cost.”
Ellesmere Port & Neston Council was controlled by the Labour Party and its leader was Cllr Madders, who was quoted in the press in 2009 talking about a 25 metre pool:
“This is an important legacy for Ellesmere Port and the borough council and we’re keen to hear residents’ views on the best possible location. Our aim is to improve the health of residents and provide unbeatable facilities for people of all ages and abilities.”
As well as being “unbeatable”, the 25 metre pool was described by the Labour Borough Council as being “top quality”.
Ledsham & Manor’s Conservative Councillor, Gareth Anderson, also spoke in support of the new plans to the Executive, saying:
“We are not just talking about a swimming pool, we are talking about a full leisure facility which encompasses dozens of different sports and events that many, many thousands of people will want to go and use above and beyond swimming. I fully appreciate the desires of the swimming clubs but my main concern is, if we were to go for a larger pool, the whole facility will become unaffordable, not just to build but also unaffordable for maintenance and for people using it.”
The £100,000 consultants’ report commissioned by Cllr Madders’ Labour council in 2008, rejected the idea of a 50m pool as too expensive and there being no need for one.
Commenting, Cllr Crompton said “Between 2008 and 2009 the old Labour-run council voted several times for a 25 metre swimming pool. In fact the only issue which was ever in doubt was where the EPIC’s replacement would go. As recently as last August, Cllr Madders was quoted in the press describing the 25 metre pool as ‘the preferred option(s) and the clear will of the people of Ellesmere Port.’.”
Cllr Anderson added: “As for the MP’s claims that he has been working on a 50 metre pool since 2008, nobody can remember him taking any part in the discussions back then, he isn’t mentioned in any report, there are no references to a 50 metre pool on his website at all and he has said nothing about this in the House of Commons. He was asked for help by the Council in finding funding which could help pay for a 50m pool 2 years ago but has not produced a single penny. He is all talk and no action.”
Cllr Crompton pointed out the further threat around funding if the project is held up by Labour: “The council has been awarded money to help this development from Sport England. However, they will not fund a 50 metre pool because they do not believe it is justified, and if Labour cause a delay to the scheme, then the offer of funding we do have may be lost. They could threaten the entire investment in the town.”
Councillor Anderson finished: “At no point in time did Cllr Madders or any of his colleagues propose a 50 metre pool. They accepted that it was neither needed nor affordable. The hypocrisy of Labour is bad enough, but their deceit in pretending they have ever wanted, or can produce, anything bigger is breathtaking. They are treating the people of Ellesmere Port like fools.”