31st March 2023
Yesterday’s council meeting saw the submission of a residents petition about the Kingfisher.
Considering the detailed timeline previously given, residents are seeking a commitment to a new pool and a feasible timescale of when that can be expected.
Labour’s Anna Gorrell asked how much money had been spent on the Kingfisher project so far.
The answer? £2.7million on absolutely nothing. This is not including the £900k spent on a hasty demolition.
She addressed the Council, “because of the decisions of this council children are growing up without access to a swimming pool. I am here for the young people who can’t get swimming lessons, because waiting lists are so long, and private gyms are unaffordable.
We have a generation of kids who will leave primary school unable to swim.
The council said they’d fix the roof, and then they change their mind. They said there would be a new pool by 2023, then they pushed the date back. They said it would cost £39million, then that became £53million, now £79million. Crucially, the council Leadership stood for election only last year promising a “brand new state of the art leisure centre in 2024.” And during the election campaign they told everyone who said this exact situation would happen that we were wrong. You will forgive residents for having lost faith in the promises of this administration.”
Former Kingston Town Cllr, Jon Tolley asked, once again, when the Council knew costs and times promised were not deliverable. Once again no answers were given. We can only conclude they knew before the election, it wasn’t deliverable, and stood on a platform of false promises, including a swimming pool in the south of the borough.
Residents simply want an accessible, family friendly community pool facility, and a council that can own up to its mistakes.
The Labour plan was to fix the roof and Invest in a King Athelstan Visitor Centre exploring Heritage Lottery Funding. This would diversify the local economy, and tap into the international tourist market given our proximity to London. We would have had the Visitor Centre ready by 2028 to coincide with the 1,100th anniversary when Athelstan (crowned in Kingston) became the first King of England. Kingston would have been in a position to lead the Nation’s celebrations of the creation of our country. Leicester’s King Richard III Centre saw a £79m increase in revenue in the City in just 2 years. By growing our local economy we would have been in a better position to eventually replace the Kingfisher.