250 pool together in Selkirk

AN estimated 250 townsfolk gathered in Selkirk’s Victoria Halls on Tuesday night to vent their collective spleen against any proposal to close the town’s swimming pool, writes Andrew Keddie.

The public meeting was the third spawned by the review of the region’s sports and leisure facilities commissioned by Scottish Borders Council and carried out by consultants Kit Campbell Associates.

Already there have been standing room only meetings in Jedburgh and Hawick, the report having flagged up the “possible closure” of the Jedburgh facility and highlighted that shutting Hawick’s Teviotdale Leisure Centre would effect the “biggest single saving” to SBC.

The recommendation for Selkirk – that SBC “needs to consider closing the pool” is more stark, but scheduled public meetings to fight that threat have twice been postponed because of the wintry weather.

“Given the two postponements, we had a terrific turnout,” said Selkirkshire councillor Kenneth Gunn, who chaired Tuesday’s meeting.

“We heard a number of excellent presentations, including one from George Burt of the Jedburgh Leisure Facilities Trust which was formed when the council threatened to close that pool seven years ago.

“The overriding view of the meeting was that the Selkirk pool is a vital resource that must be saved.

“There was, however, widespread concern at the way the pool, its fitness centre and its adjacent caravan park, which are all on Common Good land, are being managed and marketed by the Borders Sport and Leisure Trust.

“User numbers in Selkirk have gone up from 25,000 to 40,000 in spite of lack of investment.”

It was agreed to form a small action committee to open early negotiations over the pool’s future with both the BSLT and the council which is inviting consultation responses on the review by January 31.