Battle for Baths begins

KIRKHAM is ready to fight the proposed closure of its Baths.

Hundreds of people attended an urgent public meeting on Tuesday and a campaign to save the pool, which was first threatened with the axe in 2006, has been launched.

The closure of the faciility is proposed along with St Annes pool in a report into the council's finances which the cabinet is discussing today.

If the recommendation is carried forward a final decision on the fate of the pools will be made by full council on March 3.

Feelings were running high at the meeting with strong opposition to the pool shutting.

Now residents of rural Fylde are being urged to use people power to safeguard the Baths.

Coun Liz Oades said: "Lobby your councillor and lobby your MP, we need to change minds and votes and people can do it."

A petition is also under way, a protest march is being planned and alternatives to closure are being looked at.

Raymond Green, chairman of The Friends of Kirkham Baths, said: "The charges for swimming could be increased, sponsorship could be looked and there is a lack of marketing."

Meanwhile the council have thrown residents a dramatic challenge -- swim 180,000 times or lose your swimming pools.

Council chiefs say everyone in Fylde needs to swim three times between now and March 3 to secure the future of the two facilities.

Otherwise St Annes pool and Kirkham Baths could close to save the council 322,000 to help plug its budget deficit.

Coun John Coombes, leader of the council, said: "If every man, women and child who lives in Fylde borough swims three times between now and March 3 they will stay open for another 12 months.

"If the same happens next year they will stay open, it's as simple as that and that's the challenge."