CAMPAIGNERS are making a splash with calls for a new pool for their town.
Within a week, the New School New Pool appeal has attracted more than 1,000 names as parents and supporters fight to replace the baths which will be lost when Seaham School of Technology moves.
There is no cash available to set up or maintain a new pool within the £17.5million rebuild budget given to the school.
It means the only swimming classes that will now be available in the town will be at the 12m by 6m pool at Seaview Primary School, or leisure centres in Peterlee and Sunderland.
The new campaign has been backed by Seaham Town Council leader and Durham County Councillor Eddie Bell, who has spent years pushing for a new leisure centre on the plot next to the school when it is built on the former Seaham Colliery site.
He and protestors – many of whom learnt to swim at the comprehensive school – will meet up with county council chiefs in the new year to discuss how plans can progress.
Mum-of-three Kay Temple, 37, who is among those involved in the petition, said: “The new school is not going to have a pool, and we’re really upset to think that younger children are not going to have the opportunity to go there and learn to swim.
“People have been fighting for a pool for Seaham for years. I can remember when I was little, there were petitions going around and there’s already been a feasibility study.
“We’re next to the sea, it’s a life skill for our children to learn to swim.”
Debbie Peverley, 40, who is mum to St Cuthbert’s RC Primary School pupils Daniel, five, and Evie, eight, added: “They do cost lots of money, but there’s only one comp in Seaham, and they won’t even be able to learn at their own pool. Everybody is going on about obesity in children. Pretty much all children love swimming.”
Councillor Bell said: “We all know Seaham Leisure Centre is probably coming to the end of its days and it needs to be replaced.
“Somewhere the size of Seaham should have its own pool.
“There is a pool at Peterlee and others that are reasonably close, but there are people who don’t have a car and we are not in the most affluent of towns, we have to make sure all people are catered for.”
He added he believes a pool and sports facilities – allied with the new school and also available for use by the wider community – could work.
The town council won its plea to have Seaham Leisure Centre’s land and the sports pitches at New Drive removed from the County Durham Plan, which sets out where new developments will be, to ensure they are protected for the coming years.
The petition can be signed at you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/new-school-new-pool.