Fears raised over future of Berkeley Pool

Save Our Services Wollongong convener  Stephen Spencer fears the city council could close Berkeley Pool, based on falling patronage.

A regular swimmer at the Continental Pools, Mr Spencer said Wollongong council’s draft pool strategy raised some pertinent points but failed to answer a number of questions.

‘‘I think it is important the current diverse range of pools  should be maintained,’’ he said.

Wollongong pool costs soar, fewer swimming

The council has nine supervised pools and nine tidal rock pools.

The council admits these rock pools are popular with early morning and evening lap swimmers and visitors to the city. 

However,  a recent survey showed that 63 per cent of the city’s population had not visited a rock pool in the previous 12 months.

File picture.

File picture.

The council’s property and recreation manager, Peter Coyte, said pool patronage had  declined over the past six years, with a 17 per cent drop since 2007-08.

More than 1.38 million people attended the council’s nine supervised pools in 2007-08. 

This  fell to 1.15 million in 2012-13. 

The largest declines  were at Berkeley (43 per cent) and Dapto (21 per cent).

However, Mr Spencer said the figures did not paint a true picture.

‘‘I’m reluctant to say the Berkeley Pool should effectively be run down to closure as this paper [strategy] seems to be suggesting, until we are convinced the people of Berkeley  really don’t want the pool,’’ he said.

‘‘Before any pool is closed or council works towards closing a pool by simple neglect, it needs to be sure the people don’t want the pool.’’

Mr Coyte said it was apparent the community loved their pools and were passionate about them.

‘‘We are exhibiting this draft Future of Our Pools Strategy to enable council to provide appealing, safe, and entertaining aquatic recreation for all people and all users in our city,’’ Mr Coyte said. 

‘‘We also have to manage these pools through the confines of council’s financial resources,’’ he said.

Mr Spencer was happy  the council wanted to develop the community pools more as social venues  and envisaged them   as  places which were going  to  enhance community health and social wellbeing.

‘‘We would be vehemently opposed to any charges being applied to those pools which are free at the moment,’’ he said.

 To see the strategy and make a submission, go online  to www.wollongong.nsw.gov.au or email engagement@wollongong.nsw.gov.au or call 4227 7111.

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