Lodge latest

PUBLISHED: 11:05 26 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:41 06 May 2010

SIR – Firstly what absolutely brilliant news you reported on your front page recently about Mr Hannaway s tremendous efforts to bring back a cinema to the old Odeon building. I wish him every success and I hope supportive residents respond according to th

SIR - Firstly what absolutely brilliant news you reported on your front page recently about Mr Hannaway's tremendous efforts to bring back a cinema to the old Odeon building. I wish him every success and I hope supportive residents respond according to their purse.

Hopefully I will never be cowered in expressing my views by a few who wish to silence them. Therefore once again I enter the fray on the Westminster Lodge debate within the Herts Advertiser. I don't consider our council has allowed a proper informed debate on the subject, so it's down to our trusty local newspaper to facilitate this.

I still hold Westminster Lodge should house a 50-metre pool and yes, maybe a spa if it can be afforded, together with a café and crèche. With the loss of Bricket Wood I feel a city and district of 130,000 residents and rising, needs such a facility. Also as I have explained before I do not believe the site can accommodate more sustainably.

In fact it was Mr Lightowler's interesting letter which helped reinforce my views.

It is only when you are in the water doing laps, not monitoring from the sidelines, do you appreciate fully the constraints of a 25-metre pool.

I used to regularly swim about 46 lengths twice a week at Westminster Lodge but was forced to leave when lane swimming was so reduced and squeezed by pressure of numbers which made it an unpleasant experience for me.

I then took up 60 lengths twice a week, to take account of the smaller pool, in a local private 25-metre pool. Not only did I enjoy swimming but needed it to help with various orthopaedic issues I have had to deal with over the years.

When I am off my crutches I hope to gently return to the water once again. I can vouch that a café, so long as you eat a healthy option, is much needed after a vigorous swim.

The difference between even a 33-metre pool and a 25-metre pool I found dramatic.

A 25-metre pool is very good for practising turns with a few strokes in the middle. Taking into account the push off from the wall, a small distance in my case covered underwater, you are hardly into a stroke before it is time to turn yet again.

Is just one pool that size adequate for a private club - yes it is, but not for the population of St Albans and surrounding areas I suggest.

Lane swimmer or not, it won't take many in the water to make it feel crowded I assure you. It will feel like a paddling pool!

Mr Lightowler also informed us that the august ASA wishes a 50-metre pool near St Albans. That place being Hatfield University; Hatfield I will remind residents already has a swimming pool which I believe was rebuilt in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

I appreciate there will be some squeals of anger on this view, but when will all ages get a look in, including older people? Why is it that older generations only get the scraps?

My mother-in-law spent some lengthy spells in the USA in her later years. She kept fit in her local 50-metre pool and participated in their Golden Olympics.

Nice idea for St Albans? However to take part she needed to learn the tumble turn. A little boy, with approval of his mother, offered to teach her. Sounds a bit syrupy but it is true and she won a medal!

That is my idea of sport for all, rather than tying ourselves in knots over the needs of elite athletes let's focus on what is most viable and needed locally.

So returning to how much this is going to cost. Worryingly the sale of Ridgeview, which was going towards some costs, we are informed by the Herts Advertiser is on ice.

The "enabling" development is on ice - so where is the money coming from?

According to council papers in 2005 the projected cost for building a 50-metre pool in 2008 was from about £23.5m. To build a 25-metre pool with dry leisure facilities was projected to be from about £25.4m. The council intends to borrow up to about £12m so where is the rest coming from?

It is worth reminding fellow readers that councillors decided the size of the pool, not residents - we were not consulted.

Only 599 replies were received to the short, option A or B consultation, with 399 negative comments of which 355 were swimming-pool related.

The council and some others think that this represents an "overwhelming" mandate for 'maxing out' our credit card; I believe they are greatly mistaken.

VANESSA GREGORY

Tennyson Road, St Albans

SIR - In response to stephen May's letter re. flumes (Herts Advertiser, November 19) I am pleased that others are equally concerned about the loss of the flumes/diving facilities in the new Westminster Lodge facility.

It is absolute nonsense to suggest flumes are "out of fashion" or the demand for such facilities is low.

Go to Aquasplash in Hemel Hempstead and the queues for the flumes there at weekends are more than 100 strong and the close proximity of Aquasplash is the main reason for the omission of the flumes from the new facility.

The present flumes at Westminster Lodge are under-used because of the cold and damp conditions on the stairs and not the quality of the flumes themselves.

Also they claim it would cost too much to put flumes in the new facility. Again this is nonsense as despite the close proximity of Aquasplash, there is still demand for a smaller single flume of about 30 metres, and this could be funded by selling the present flumes on the open market which would fetch at least £250,000, and there is already interest from a leisure park in Somerset.

This would easilly fund a smaller 30-metre flume and the remainder could be spent on diving facilities. In this way everyone is a winner as not only do we get a new flume/diving facilities, but the existing flumes go to a good home where they will be loved and cared for rather than going to waste which would be an absolute tragedy for all concerned as this is the way forward.

ANDREW L SMITH

Beech Road, St Albans

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