A sports coach has aired his views about possible changes to a town’s leisure centre. Head Coach of Cheadle & District Swimming Club, Andrew Stone, has written a letter to Cheadle Town Council updating councillors on the club’s current situation, as well as his thoughts on how the future proposals for the South Moorlands Leisure Centre may affect the club.
A sports coach has aired his views about possible changes to a town’s leisure centre.
Head Coach of Cheadle & District Swimming Club, Andrew Stone, has written a letter to Cheadle Town Council updating councillors on the club’s current situation, as well as his thoughts on how the future proposals for the South Moorlands Leisure Centre may affect the club.
The letter comes as members of the town council are on the Cheadle Town Centre Project Stakeholder Panel, which is currently consulting with people regarding the future of Cheadle. The panel has been set up to support the Cheadle Town Centre Project Delivery Board.
In his letter to Cheadle Town council, Mr Stone said: “The club has recommenced training on April 12. We currently train at Cheadle Leisure Centre Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and at Denstone College Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays as we are unable to obtain pool time at Cheadle for the training squads on those nights.
“We have lost a number of swimmers, particularly those who use the club for keep fit. All swimmers have been mentally set back by the lockdowns and with the natural fear they will not progress.
“I have no doubt this ‘mental battering’ has caused some to quit the sport. This loss of members has also impacted on the clubs finances. The ability to recruit is obviously very difficult in the circumstances that we are currently operating in.
“Two swimmers did a sponsored bike ride last July, with one completing 100 miles per day for seven days and raised around £2,000 for the club.
“The club have a number of County Champions and have had swimmers highly ranked in the country and with some being placed on the England talent programme.”
Mr Stone went on to state: “I spoke with Tim Mills of FMG (Consultants) on 09.02.2021 and advised that building a piddly four lane 25 metre pool in the Tape Street Car Park would be a backward step for the town. (FMG measure size of pool needed against usage hence the four lane 25 metre pool option).
‘We would not be able to fit our Club in and would probably lose swimmers to outside (the Staffordshire Moorlands).
“The ability to run lessons would also be compromised as well as school swimming. A number of people use other pools such as Denstone, Blythe High and Greens because the water is too cold at Cheadle, this is a particular issue for small children in lessons and casual swimmers, they don’t go elsewhere because the pool is old.
“SMDC state that they want at least one competition pool in (the Staffordshire Moorlands). Though I don’t think they have an understanding of what a competition pool would look like. (Tim Mills said he didn’t know much about swimming).
“The main competitions in swimming are either: 1. Team galas which may be league fixtures or friendly galas. The revenue is generated by charging spectators entrance and selling raffle tickets – the more lanes and spectator accommodation the more revenue.
“2. Licensed meets – which have to be swum in a 25 or 50 metre pool. Swimmers may typically swim around ten races over a weekend, often with an overnight stop and the times are held with Swim England to allow a progression to higher grade meets and National competitions. A good facility will also have a ‘swim down’ facility (this could be a teaching pool – Stafford is an example of this).
“Currently there are no pools in (the Staffordshire Moorlands) suitable for competition. Cheadle is too long at 36 2/3 yards and can not be used for a licensed meet. Leek is too small at four lanes, Biddulph is the closest fit with six lanes but poolside space and lack of spectator accommodation means it is unfit.
“Although Biddulph run an Open Meet they have swimmers sat downstairs in unused squash courts and the meet is a very poor one.
“I suggest that one option that should be explored, which also would be low cost and less disruptive, would be to put a boom in at Cheadle and create a six lane 25 metre pool plus teaching pool (the teaching pool could be a swim down pool during an open meet). An example of this is Walsall.
“The current issues with the pool which need to be addressed if this option is pursued would be: 1. The pool is too cold for most users and is around 27 degrees C, this needs to be raised to 28.5 C. 2. Improve ventilation in changing areas – this includes stopping juveniles smoking outside the girls group change. 3. Fix the PA system. 4. Fix urinal in the toilets – they are over flowing when auto flushing. 5. Fix the Pace clock. 6. Another potential thought would be to use the vending area and create one or two rooms that could be used as a call room during meets and a dance studio at other times.
“The ideal situation for a new pool would be an eight lane 25 metre pool with a separate teaching pool. The Teaching Pool could be kept at a warmer temperature than the main pool but also used as a Swim Down facility if we ran an open meet.
“Having an eight lane pool allows more entries and increased revenue/turnover and therefore footfall if we run an open meet ourselves.
“We could also look to run the County Champs, which we used to do some years ago. The other benefit of eight lanes is the ability to have more dual hire going forward rather than turn away bookings. Our club in effect could on some nights (i.e Mon/Tues) rather than hire the whole pool, hire half the lanes whilst others could be used by other groups/public.”
Mr Stone added: “To contemplate building houses on the leisure centre site, I think for most people in Cheadle they would find totally unacceptable.
“The loss of the facilities and Green space would turn the area into a concrete jungle. Building on a flood plain seems crazy, when there is a down pour now the drains back up.
“I notice in areas around Longton and Hanley there are derelict houses. One of the reasons Cheadle is to build houses at the current level is because of an algorithm used by the Government. This is something that should be challenged.
“Where I live in Cheadle, in my lifetime I have seen large amounts of Hawthorn Hedges ripped out to make way for housing, this obviously having an affect on wildlife.”
Cheadle town councillors discussed Mr Stone’s letter at their virtual meeting on Tuesday, May 4. It was agreed that Mr Stone had “raised a lot of good points” in his correspondence, and that members of the Stakeholder panel would “take on board” what he had said.
It was also agreed to invite Mr Stone to speak at a future meeting of the Stakeholder Panel.
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