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Council gives threatened baths reprieve.

PLANS to save a Wirral swimming pool have been given a reprieve.

Byrne Avenue swimming baths in Rock Ferry closed suddenly 18 months ago and have lain empty ever since.

A group of businessmen put forward a proposal to revamp the popular leisure facility under the council's community asset transfer programme.

However a report to the council's cabinet appeared to write off this attempt by recommending the site be put on the open market - possibly to be sold for housing.

But now, in a new twist, the cabinet has backed the efforts of Byrne Avenue Community Trust (BACT) and has earmarked pounds 350,000 if they can obtain match-funding to carry out the work. They have been given a deadline of March 31, 2011 to get the funding in place and present the council with a credible business plan.

Deputy leader of the council Simon Holbrook said: "We are prepared to set aside within the community fund a sum of money - if you like with BACT's name on it, should you be able to put together the kind of business plan and funding evidence that will convince our officers." BACT member Ben Harrison who spoke at the cabinet meeting said new potential funding sources had become available and urged the councillors to reconsider.

He told the councillors: "This is a great example of Mr Cameron's Big Society, getting people to run things in their community.

"We are 100% confident we can refurbish the baths and at least break even."

After the meeting he said their decision to support BACT's efforts was "very positive" and added: "We thanks the council for looking at this in a different light."

BACT supporter Graham Williamson, who first learned to swim at the pool in 1943, welcomed the decision and said: "There is a lot of nostalgia for these baths."

Local councillor Chris Meaden said she was pleased the council had listened to the appeal from BACT to give them more time, and added: "The previous administration, which I was a part of, created the community fund which is vital to any funding package to secure the future of Byrne Avenue."

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Byrne Avenue baths in Rock Ferry
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 10, 2010
Words:364
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