The Whitley Pump has previously reported on the potential closure of these baths as part of a review of leisure facilities in the borough. It is the oldest sporting facility in Reading and marked its centenary in 2011. Arthur Hill was mayor of Reading from 1883 to 1887 and the pool was built on land donated by his son-in-law, Dr Jamieson Hurry. Arthur Hill Memorial Baths may be small but it has an Olympic sized legend!
For a full financial year, closure of the pool will save £120,000 in running costs and £30,000 in property maintenance. On top of these costs, a projected £700,000 of repair works to address structural defects would be required if the baths were to remain open. It is proposed that the site will be sold as soon as possible and the disposal proceeds invested in a new 25 metre 6 lane pool at Palmer Park Stadium.
In summary, taking into account the need to review leisure facilities and the current budget situation, closing the pool this year is regarded as the best option.
In addition to the review of leisure facilities, and the conclusion that more modern facilities are required, the Council has also been conducting a wider review of its land and property assets with a view to rationalising to reduce spend on maintenance and to realise capital receipts through disposing of any surplus assets. These measures will assist the Council’s financial position and help protect other front-line services, especially those to the most vulnerable. Ceasing the operation of Arthur Hill Pool will also contribute to the savings and receipts linked to the objectives of this wider asset review. The value of any capital receipt secured through the disposal of the Arthur Hill site following closure would be utilised to help fund the provision of new replacement swimming facilities.
These historic baths will be missed locally and they are also the closest swimming pool to the Whitley Pump at only 1.3 miles away.
The meeting will take place at 6.30 pm on Monday 26 September, in the Council Chamber at the Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading, RG1 2LU.
The meeting is expected to be webcast.