A DECISION to pull the plug on plans for a new swimming pool has been described as scandalous by local residents.

Cumberland Council confirmed this week that it would not proceed with a swimming pool at the Maryport Wave Centre because it would not be sustainable.

Council leader Mark Fryer said he understood people would be disappointed but the ongoing costs of the pool were unsustainable.

He said the council would consult the public and would look at a Plan B for the £5million Future High Street investment by the Government.

"Deadlines are also extremely tight and it is unlikely that the project could now be built in the timescales allowed," he said.

“The timing of this decision has been very difficult, coming so soon following the vesting of Cumberland Council.

“Officers are continuing to look at other options for this scheme and we await feedback on this. I encourage people from the community to be part of that process.”

However, Workington MP Mark Jenkinson suggested that the council is set to lose the £5million because of its failure to deliver this project in time.

He said Levelling Up and Communities portfolio holder Minister Dejenna Davison, “has already indicated to me that the £5m government investment is now under threat.

“Indeed, Cumberland has now stated that they don’t think they could even have built the pool in time to save the funding, so what chance is there if they have to go back to the drawing board?”

Times and Star: The Wave CentreThe Wave Centre (Image: Archive)

He added: “The leaders at Cumberland appear to have no vision, no ambition: and seem quite happy to preside over the managed decline of towns like Maryport rather than making a concerted effort to revive their fortunes.

“Cumberland hasn’t got a plan A, B or C – it is painfully obvious that they have no plan at all.”

The proposed executive decision to close the pool was called in for scrutiny by councillors including Maryport representative Carni McCarron-Holmes and Billy Pegram.

The call-in was signed by Cllr Carni McCarron-Holmes, Cllr Bill Pegram, Cllr Jimmy Grisdale, Cllr Andrew Semple and Cllr Markus Campbell-Savours.

The decision has been a huge blow for the town and, in particular, former Mayor and councillor Peter Kendall who has campaigned tirelessly to have a pool in a coastal town where learning to swim could be the difference between life and death.

Mr Kendall said: "The council have turned down the £500,000 for the running costs, there was £5.1 million agreed in the regeneration package for building the swimming pool at The Wave but they won't pay for the running costs.

"Yet they'll pay £500,000 for Cockermouth, Keswick, Workington and over £1million for The Sands Centre swimming pool [in Carlisle]."

Mr Kendall continued: "But the bottom line is they don't want the footfall of people in Maryport, all the schools are up for swimming because they won't have to transport or anything like that, all the schools in Maryport apart from Netherhall are supportive of it but they've turned it down for the second time. 

"We asked Cumbria Community Foundation whether they could run funding for the running costs, but it's such a short timeframe for them to come back."

Mr Kendal claims that there has been 'a legacy of crucifying The Wave' in the way through its construction and the way it was funded.

He has been supported in his campaign by local schools including Netherton Infant School which has stopped its swimming programme because of the cost of travelling to Workington for lessons.

Grasslot Infant School, Dearham Primary and Flimby Schools have also voiced concern about the cost of travel and the difficulties caused by not having a local swimming pool.

Kath Clarkson, 75, of Grasmere Terrace said it was nothing less than a scandal. “We were promised this pool, so what is going to happen now? It is scandalous!”

She said the county council, and now the Cumberland Council, was 'trying to turn Maryport into a ghost town'.

“They have reduced the town bus service and now they are taking away the promise of a new pool which is something we need in this community!”

Annalee Holliday, who chaired the swimming pool committee formed to ensure there was a pool in town, said around £18,000 was spent in grant money and community funds to first look at the possibility of fixing up the Netherhall school pool and then a feasibility study for a pool at the wave.

She, like other campaigners, said she was bitterly disappointed and said it did appear that any hopes of a local pool were now ended.

“I just hope that the money meant for the pool will still be spent in Maryport,” she said.