Westminster lodge latest

PUBLISHED: 17:09 04 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:36 06 May 2010

SIR – Surely the events of the last decade have shown us the folly of the have-it-now mentality. If funding is currently unavailable for the well-designed, Olympic-quality swimming pool that St Albans deserves and needs, then the council should put in p

SIR - Surely the events of the last decade have shown us the folly of the 'have-it-now' mentality.

If funding is currently unavailable for the well-designed, Olympic-quality swimming pool that St Albans deserves and needs, then the council should put in place financial and architectural plans for the future, rather than build a replacement that will be scrapped in another 20 years, along with the reputations of those responsible.

U-turns take courage, but are often a sign, not of weakness, but of strength.

EVA LAWRENCE

The Ridgeway

St Albans

SIR - I hope you will indulge me in allowing me to reply to points made by a few correspondents in last week's issue (Herts Advertiser October 22).

To begin with there are two main misconceptions; that there is a majority in favour of the proposals - your letters columns show a substantial number against, but more seriously that the proposals will give St Albans "a first-class facility".

Regrettably what is proposed is very much second class and way short of meeting the needs of the community.

To Andrew Ellis, who claims that a public regulation (what does that mean?) 25m pool will be a milestone I wonder if he has not mis-spelled the word and means millstone?

Westminster Lodge was built, designed and intended to be a SWIMMING POOL but we now find it metamorphasing into a sports hall, badminton centre , gym and climbing wall (oh and above all a cafe - where would we be without yet another cafe in St Albans?).

My problem with this diversification is that in its proposed change it will be losing its primary purpose - to provide first-class swimming facilities for the people of St Albans.

I appreciate the views of Mr Lightowler, chairman of CoStA Swimming Club but wonder if, in the interests of his members he would not prefer a 50m pool which in Olympic terms is the shortest distance for Olympic competition?

But I do take exception to Mr Lightowler's inference that the objectors are trying to score political points. Clr Mills and I are not of the same political persuasion but I think we both share a common desire to achieve what we feel is best for St Albans and in the recent past we managed to achieve the provision of shelters for the bus stops by the City Hospital. As to your anonymous correspondent (I wonder why he wishes to remain anonymous?) does he/she not have the courage of his convictions - and be prepared to put his head above the parapet - but then he is a relative newcomer having been here for only 20 years to my 40 and he therefore lacks the benefit of having seen it all before.

I concur most readily with your correspondents who want change to happen but I submit most earnestly that such change should be for the better and on a permanent basis not just some makeshift scheme which will be inadequate before it is even completed .

Let us not be satisfied with second best, or that which may be good enough for now but let us go for something really good and worthy of St Albans which will last more than the 38 years that the present pool has existed.

If only Cllr Burton and her colleagues had done a half decent job of research as to need and availability we would have had a discussion paper that allowed us to look at more than two twopennyhalfpenny options and to have a real sennse of vision for the future.

And for those advocates of a 25m pool I can tell them of my own childhood experiences with such a pool when demand was such that having queued for half an hour or more for entry, children were then obliged to wear a coloured wrist band which allowed them pool usage for a maximum of 20 minutes and when the whistle went all appropriately coloured bands were ejected in next to no time. Hardly the best preparation for future Olympians.

And then there is the added danger that when building on any new project begins, excavations might reveal items of possible archaeological interest which could delay development for months.

Actual work on any new project could proceed apace with a competent contactor - after all, as long ago as 1851 Joseph Paxton built the original Crystal Palace in 26 weeks and in the early thirties the Empire State Building in New York was completed in little more than 18 months. But then they were projects not commissioned by St Albans City and District Council whose continued association with Herts Highways is guaranteed to ensure that their ability to get things done will never be believable.

Yes we do need to have better facilities at Westminster Lodge but we need to ensure that what we opt for are the best possible and satisfy the needs and ambitions of the vast majority so perhaps another month or two of intelligent and reasoned discussion now, might well reach a conclusion that will be worthwhile, fit for purpose and lasting for somewhat longer than a glorified paddling pool.

PHILIP WEBSTER

Townsend Drive, St Albans


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