A Luton Borough Council Committee responsible for looking at Assets issues has advised the Labour Executive running the Council that the proposed sale of the Bath Road Open Air Pool site should be halted.
The advice follows a rushed through decision in April by Labour leaders that part of the Bath Road site should be sold quickly on a Freehold basis. If this happens, the historic site – plus 3 others put up for sale – would be lost from Council ownership forever, ending any prospect of a new Pool ever being built at Bath Road.
The Labour Council sought to prevent the decision being challenged by saying it would be financially prejudicial not to rush through the sale. However, the Assets Scrutiny Committee strongly disagreed, and have asked the Executive to call a halt to any sale in progress.
When Luton residents were asked where they wanted a new pool by the then Labour Council in 2001, Bath Road was overwhelmingly most popular, with 71% of people in favour.
At a heated meeting on Wednesday where Exec member Cllr. Harris was quizzed by the public and other councillors, a Liberal Democrat recommendation was agreed asking the Executive to RETAIN Bath Road as a possible site for a new swimming pool until either a pool is built there, or a new pool has been provided on an alternative site.
Labour want to sell Bath Road without any identified alternative site or clear plan.
Cllr Martin Pantling, Chair of Performance Resources and Assets Scrutiny Committee, says:
“Having considered all the issues, we concluded it would be unwise to sell off any of the Bath Road site when no alternative site has been identified for the promised Olympic size pool and the Council won’t get the best price for it in a falling market.”
“Until there is a clear, funded plan for a pool, either there or elsewhere, the Bath Road site should stay in public ownership.”
“I hope the Executive will now listen. The decision was flawed and needs amending. With a £5.5 million underspend last year and huge reserves this year, the Council can afford to hold off and should, in its own and the public’s interest. A quick grubby behind-the-scenes sale now is not a necessary or a wise move.”