The road to the re-opening of Broomhill Pool has been a long and tortuous one but we are hopefully now in sight of the finishing line, writes Borough Council Leader, David Ellesmere.
Broomhill was closed in 2002 because of significant structural problems.
There have been continuous attempts to reopen the pool ever since, not least by the Broomhill Pool Trust.
When Labour took control of the Council in 2011, one of the early decisions we had to make was to work with Fusion Lifestyle to put together a business case to bring the pool back into use and to confirm council funding of £1m to the project.
Fusion have worked diligently on their plans, gaining full Heritage Lottery Fund approval at the end of 2017.
At that point the reopening of the pool looked certain but there was one more twist.
Fusion announced that construction inflation meant the cost of the project had gone up by £750,000. They were been given a deadline of early October by the Lottery to come up with the extra money.
The Borough Council has taken the decision to put an extra £500,000 towards this shortfall. After speaking to Fusion, we believe this should be enough to enable the restoration to proceed.
To have come this far, securing £5.5m inward investment to Ipswich, only to fall at the final hurdle would be a great shame.
The Council’s promise of £1m was made many years ago and has been eroded by inflation. This increase keeps the Council’s contribution roughly the same in real terms as when it was first pledged.
If the Fusion bid were to fail, any alternative such as returning the site back to parkland would likely cost more than the Borough’s contribution.
But first and foremost, we want to see Broomhill reopen. The long hot summer we’ve just had shows the real potential of the pool. Fusion’s plans include a fitness centre and water heating which will extend its use year-round and make it a going concern.
Many people in Ipswich have fond memories of visiting Broomhill.
Here’s hoping that, from 2020, Broomhill will be giving a whole new generation their own happy memories.