Posted: 15.11.21 at 14:26 by The Editor
A Paralympian and an outdoor swimming expert were among the guest panelists at a public meeting discussing the future of public swimming in Kenilworth this weekend.
Hosts said that the "excellent" turnout at the meeting clearly showed that there remains an appetite for outdoor swimming in the district.
The 'COP OUT' meeting, organised by Kenilworth Lido Campaign, was named with a nod to COP26 in Glasgow and WDC's "copping out" of its net zero carbon pledge in the design for the new swimming pools in Abbey Fields.
The event, which was hosted on Saturday (November 13) at Kenilworth United Reformed Church, kicked off with a talk by Kathleen Wootton.
Back in 2020 Kathleen, who suffers with a number of severe health issues, weighed in at over 40st. She joined a year-round outdoor swimming group in Seaham which turned her life around and since then Kathleen has shed half of her former weight.
Kathleen said: “Swimming outdoors literally saved my life”.
Second up was former professor at Coventry University and current cxecutive chair of the Building Performance Network George Martin.
To explain the shortcomings of WDC's plans for the new Abbey Fields swimming pool George said if you purchased a new car which was advertised to return 60 mpg and it only attained 10 mpg, we would be deeply disappointed. It is exactly the same principle for building performance.
The lido campaign said: "It should also be noted a lido inevitably saves energy consumption because it doesn't have a carbon-intense building to cover it and it would not need energy to manage conditions inside that building."
The final speaker was Paralympian swimmer Melanie Easter who has spent much of her life in Kenilworth and recounted the times that she developed her love for swimming in the Lido in Abbey Fields.
Melanie represented GB at Atlanta in 1996 where she won gold and silver medals.
She also competed at Sydney in 2000 where she won gold, silver and bronze.
Melanie is a big advocate of outdoor swimming and spoke passionately about the mental and physical health benefits it brings. She firmly believes that Kenilworth must retain its Lido and that the demolition is paused for a proper re-evaluation.
Mayor of Kenilworth Cllr Peter Jones was at the meeting along with district Councillor Colin Quinney who sits on WDC's planning committee.
Cllr Quinney objected to the plans for Abbey Fields and Castle Farm on the grounds that the buildings do not meet the standards that the council itself has set.
At the meeting Cllr Quinney said he struggles to understand WDC’s rationale in this matter and believes the plans must be paused.
The lido campaign spokesperson added: "During the Q&A session it became apparent that many people remain thoroughly confused by WDC’s actions as since the inception of its plans, outdoor swimming has become ever increasingly popular and new or refurbished Lidos are springing up all over the country.
"The recent press coverage about 121 sewage discharges in local watercourses was also raised and has surely strengthened the argument for providing a safe outdoor public swimming facility?
"Much dismay was expressed about the poor green credentials of WDC’s plans for the swimming pool complex.
"The feeling from the floor was that the campaign must be escalated and now involve more direct action to further highlight WDC’s shameful handling of the project and Kenilworth Town Council’s continued silence."
The campaign group will now submit a petition with over 1,500 signatures to WDC on November 17 calling for it to pause and rethink both new leisure projects.
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