Lodge's future

PUBLISHED: 11:10 13 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:19 06 May 2010

SIR - On a new Westminster Lodge the public is only allowed three weeks in the busy holiday periods to choose between two new unpriced schemes for a new Westminster Lodge though they will have to pay for it. Is this tickboxistis? I worry that this is simi

SIR - On a new Westminster Lodge the public is only allowed three weeks in the busy holiday periods to choose between two new unpriced schemes for a new Westminster Lodge though they will have to pay for it. Is this tickboxistis?

I worry that this is similar to the St Peters Street enhancements, Museum and Harpenden Leisure centre which all ended up way above budget. A crucial difference if, as indicated, it is a brand new Leisure Centre is that the cost could easily be £15-£20m (based on similar schemes given out by a google search).

This uses comparative figures and also considers some £575,000 of consultant fees shown in the Council's 2009 accounts. One hopes the consultants and SADC would also offer a re-generation, green and environmentally friendly scheme for residents to consider.

Eighteen months ago I did, after difficulty, finally manage to see and professionally checked an earlier detailed A3 report on the existing centre.That indicated that other than the mechanical services and some architectural elements, the existing building seems fully capable of re-generation. This could be at perhaps a third of the cost, i.e. £5m. Savings would avoid selling assets, suffering debt or would even allow building a new cinema.

Are residents receiving value for money? SADC appears overly secretive on subjects including this, selling building assets, loss of three senior officers and considerations of the new planning regulations.

MIKE WAKELEY

Town and District Councillor

Oakfield Road

Harpenden

SIR - Not for the first time has our rudderless council proved itself to be out of touch with the people it purports to represent. I was quite looking forward to the "exhibition" of the plans the council's experienced advisors have put forward but what a pathetic exhibition - a few display boards and little more than Hobson's choice to select from.

I just wonder what Leisure Portfolio Holder Sheila Burton and her fellow councillors have been doing for the last few years when they have been supposedly looking after the leisure facilities in the district?

Their improvemnts sound even more abject than the botched up job her fellow councillors did with the St Peter's Street "enhancement" scheme.

It would surely have been far better for them to have taken some soundings before making proposals but here they come with two fiddly narrow-minded little options.

With the world swimming chamionships just concluded and Britons winning gold medals one has to ask how many of our excellent team have to train in 25-metre pools? And what diving facilities did Tom Daley have to prepare him for his high diving gold medal? Not only are we to have a much smaller pool (which can be half-boarded over), we are losing Bricket Wood as well.

Perhaps it is the intention to limit sessions in order to satisfy demand and if so how long will those sessions last? Currently the "tubes" can only be used for two separate one-hour sessions a day as I believe the diving boards also.

When Westminster Lodge opened in 1971 I was privileged to serve as chairman of the Scout and Guide swimming club and over many years with a team of dedicated helpers we helped probably hundreds of children to qualify for their competence badges.

I can vouch for the enthusiasm of children to learn to swim but they do need space to achieve their desire and they will be sadly lacking in this if either of the current proposals are adopted.

And whilst our leisure committee are at it why don't they pop along to Hemel and see the wealth of activities that are carried on there? Ten-pin bowling, ice skating and far better swimming facilities than we are expected to put up with. Please think again Mrs Burton and in future please do take some soundings before putting forward half-baked proposals on a take it or leave it basis.

I suggest that we might do worse than keep a renovated Westminster Lodge with all its faults. And finally what useful purpose is served by knowing an individual's religion?

PHILIP WEBSTER

Townsend Drive

St Albans

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