The fu­ture of lido must be pro­tected

Gloucestershire Echo - - LETTERS & OPINION - Alex Chalk Con­ser­va­tive MP for Chel­tenham

THIS week I trav­elled to Lon­don, to the Depart­ment of Health and So­cial Care, to brief the Health Min­is­ter and spe­cial ad­viser about Glouces­ter­shire health bosses’ com­pletely mis­con­ceived plans for get­ting rid of Chel­tenham’s A&E.

More dis­cus­sions are planned for later in the week and I will be meet­ing lo­cal stake­hold­ers to help co­or­di­nate our strat­egy.

NHS trust man­agers might think this is a done deal, hence their cyn­i­cal at­tempt to carry out a snap en­gage­ment ex­er­cise in Au­gust, but they are wrong.

Nearly 10,000 peo­ple have signed my pe­ti­tion op­pos­ing the plans. The fight­back has be­gun.

Back in Chel­tenham I vis­ited the Lido to hear from staff (and swim­mers) about their con­cerns for the Lido’s fu­ture.

I should de­clare an in­ter­est as a sea­son ticket holder my­self and some­one who reg­u­larly takes part in the Christ­mas Day swim.

The char­ity, the Sandford Lido Trust, has nursed this hugely pre­cious com­mu­nity asset back to fi­nan­cial health over the last two decades - af­ter a long pe­riod when it looked like it might have to close.

The trust has been try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate an ex­ten­sion to the cur­rent lease with the coun­cil. That ex­ten­sion would al­low the char­ity to ac­cess grant fund­ing for im­prove­ments to chang­ing rooms and other fa­cil­i­ties.

But lido staff are se­ri­ously con­cerned by the bomb­shell de­mand for a share of the ticket and car park rev­enue in re­turn for a new lease.

Such a re­quire­ment would hole the Lido’s fi­nances be­low the wa­ter­line and put its vi­a­bil­ity at se­ri­ous risk.

Los­ing the lido would be a tragedy for Chel­tenham and for the peo­ple of all in­comes and back­grounds who ben­e­fit from this com­mu­nity asset.

For the sake of the whole town, the lido’s fu­ture must be as­sured.

If you would like to learn more and show your sup­port, the trust has pro­vided an email ad­dress [email protected]­ford­park­slido.org.uk.

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