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Canoe club under threat as Lido future uncertain

Members of a canoe club that meets at Aldershot Lido may struggle to continue if the pool is removed following a public consultation

Members of Blackwater Valley Canoe Club

Members of a canoe club that meets at Aldershot Lido have said it will be ‘very difficult’ to continue running if the pool is removed.

Rushmoor residents were asked for their opinions on five options for the historic Guildford Road lido in a consultation that closed on December 3.

A representation by Blackwater Valley Canoe Club, which holds sessions for children and the disabled at the lido, was critical of the review process and pleaded with the council to be sympathetic towards it. The club said the process had ignored canoeing and watersports as options for the lido.

The review is being undertaken because of low visitor numbers. The lido costs the council £180,000 per year to run – £13,000 of which is paid by contractor DC Leisure – and attracts around 16,000 visits a year.

Three of the proposed options would retain the outdoor pool but the most cost-effective solution on paper would see the pool turned into a splash pad with a mini golf course and play park. It is thought this would attract 86,000 visitors and save 60% in running costs.

The canoe club was created in 1986 and has used grants from Rushmoor and Hampshire County Council, among others, to buy boats and train volunteers on the lido. Chairman Richard Green said he fears for the club’s future if, as he predicts, the lido is removed.

“I have a horrible feeling the council has already made up its mind,” he said. “It would be very difficult to continue if the outdoor pool was taken away. There are other places to hold sessions, but we want to be as local as possible. We have the canal but we would prefer not to use that for obvious reasons.”

He added: “I’d like to think we can still pull it out of the bag. I really hope the site can be developed and we can continue running it. It can’t just be handed over to the community because there is a danger it would flop.”

Some consultation respondents accused the council of including options that would never seriously be considered. Mike Roberts, Labour councillor for Aldershot Park, went as far as to say the suggestion a community group could manage the lido was ‘designed to fail’, as were suggestions it could be returned to parkland or continue as it is. “This all strikes me as seeking an end and deciding how we get there,” said Cllr Roberts.

Council head of communities Peter Amies said transferring management of the lido could be successful, as it had been in other locations.

“We’re not putting it forward tongue-in-cheek,” he said. “It’s not the council saying we want to close the lido, it’s us saying ‘give us your ideas’. The canoe club is the only group that uses it.”

 

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