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Town may not Wave goodbye to its pool
Buy this photo » Bill Service next to the fields off Avon Way where a new £15m leisure centre could be built
DIDCOT Wave swimming pool could avoid closure if town council leaders agree to take over the management.
Until now, South Oxfordshire District Council bosses have said that the pool in Mereland Road will have to shut when a planned new £15m leisure and pool complex opens after 2016.
But now cabinet member for leisure Bill Service says a deal could be struck to save Didcot Wave, which is owned by SODC.
He said council officers would seek talks with the town council to discuss the possibility of the town council taking over the management of Didcot Wave.
The town council owns Willowbrook Leisure Centre on the Ladygrove estate, so there would be a precedent for the town council to manage Didcot Wave.
Mr Service said: “Until now the district council has thought it would not be financially viable for it to run both the new leisure centre and Didcot Wave.
“However, the Wave is very popular in Didcot and it’s a possibility that the town council could take over the management.
“I know the town council is very concerned that it should not close.
“If Didcot Wave does stay open, then the provision at the new leisure centre would have to be adapted – a kiddies’ training pool might not be included.
“People in Didcot are very loyal to Didcot Wave – it is very well used.”
Town council leader Margaret Davies said: “We certainly wouldn’t rule out taking over the management of Didcot Wave.
“So far the proposal hasn’t been suggested to us officially but we would certainly consider it.
“We are very concerned that if Didcot Wave closes it will be a major loss to leisure facilities in the south of the town.”
And referring to the planned leisure centre north of the Ladygrove estate, Mrs Davies said: “It’s now quite a tight timescale to get it built and opened by 2016 if negotiations are still ongoing to buy the land.”
Money has been set aside in SODC’s medium term financial strategy, which runs from 2013/2014 to 2017/2018, to provide £15m of additional funding to the capital programme for a new centre.
Mr Service said negotiations were under way with Reading University to buy land opposite Avon Way, north of Ladygrove, for the mulit-million pund complex.
Mr Service added: “This is our preferred site and negotiations with landowner Reading University are ongoing. It’s right on the doorstep for the people of Ladygrove and there are good road links, but the suitable locations for something this size are few and far between.”
David Savage, chief operating officer for Reading University, said: “As a landowner in the area, the university is working with the council and a number of other bodies to assist with the delivery of their development plans.”
In 2011, a plan was announced to create Didcot’s first all-weather football pitch on Didcot Town FC land at Loop Meadow.
The plan was supported by South Oxfordshire District Council and the town council, but Mr Service said he thought the proposal was unlikely to go ahead.
“Instead we will provide all-weather pitches at the new leisure centre, with one for hockey and one for other sports, including tennis and soccer.”
Mr Service added that the new leisure centre would include an eight-lane 25m pool.
Residents have also been promised new community facilities at Great Western Park, off the A4130, where more than 3,000 homes are under construction.