After a small meeting to kick off our consultation to develop Shoalstone Pool; where we shared some initial ideas; I noticed this while walking along the road the other day –
So I decided to knock on the door and ask what their concerns were. In short, the resident did not want any development because they believed any work would be disruptive and would spoil their view of the bay. That’s very clear; and good to know. But…
It seems our message that these were ideas, not plans, had not been communicated clearly enough; as the author of the above sign states that we have “… fully formulated plans…”. Let’s be clear, these are ideas. And if none of them gain any confidence from the whole community of Brixham, and don’t meet various conditions set out in the covenants on the land, then they won’t happen.
Let’s think about why we have shared these ideas. Brixham Town Council took the lease of the pool after Torbay District Council threatened to close the pool a few years ago. The pool is run on a shoestring budget and relies on the efforts of over 50 people doing voluntary work. This work includes management (6 voluntary, unpaid directors), maintenance and cleaning (a part time caretaker and tens of voluntary helpers). And we have ten lifeguards paid just above minimum wage for the summer. The Friends of Shoalstone Pool raise money through events; Shoalstone Pool raises some money through events; some income comes from car parking fees, beach hut and deck chair hire; and Brixham Town Council make a small contribution. It’s worth remembering that a Band D property in Brixham pays £43 out of £1677 of its Council Tax to Brixham Town Council or 83p a week. Of this 83p/week, around 4p/week goes to Shoalstone Pool from each Council Tax payer in Brixham.
Two years ago Shoalstone Pool got £50,000 from the national Coastal Communities Fund to do some repairs to the pool. This was on top of almost £40,000 spent in the previous year on repairs. This £90,000 spent has repaired the pool lining, but not fixed it. Fixing it and making it future proof will cost several times more than this. Just to run the pool (with free labour covering management, maintenance and cleaning; ten summer lifeguards and a part-time caretaker; materials, paint, safety equipment, maintenance equipment etc) is around £50,000/year. So more money has to come from somewhere.
One of our principles is that the pool should remain free-to-use for local families, swimmers and visitors. We ask for donations, but like any public pool, these don’t cover the cost of running the pool. So we need to find more ways to raise money. If we don’t the pool will inevitably close…either because people tire of putting their hands in their pockets, or tire of volunteering.
The choice is simple. We either come up with ideas that maximise income and make Shoalstone Pool an even better place to be than it is already, while minimising disruption during and after construction…or we’ll see it’s gradual decline.
So, this summer we will be talking to many, many people to see what they think about our ideas, and what their ideas are. If there are more who support us going ahead we will; if not we won’t. And that’s before we’ve even applied for planning or raised the money to do any work. There’s a long way to go. Help us, rather than hinder us, please.