COUNCILLORS have agreed to give Settle Area Swimming Pool £150,000 to help build a health and wellbeing extension.

Craven District Council’s Policy Committee also agreed last week to underwrite up to £115,000 for income generation and funding bids while a community fundraising campaign takes place. The decision of the Policy Committee will need to be approved by a meeting of the full council tomorrow (August 5).

Councillors at last week’s remotely held meeting praised the hard work of the pool committee in keeping the facility running for the use of adults and children not only in Settle but also in mid and north Craven.

They agreed that efforts to expand the work of the pool with a health and wellbeing centre ought to be supported, and agreed to giving the money, on the condition planning permission was received for the extension. Councillors also agreed to an amendment that support would be dependent on a business plan - taking into account post coronavirus measures - was acceptable to the council’s chief finance officer, in consultation with Cllr David Ireton, lead member for resilient communities; and Cllr Patrick Mulligan, lead member for financial resilience.

Cllr Mulligan (Con, Aire Valley with Lothersdale) had earlier raised concerns about giving the pool £265,000 when the council’s own finances were in trouble.

“Everyone has suffered from Covid and to make that commitment now when the council’s finances are in such a perilous state, I just don’t think the time is right,” he said.

Cllr David Ireton, (Con, Ingleton and Clapham) urged councillors to support the project.

“Settle Area Swimming Pool has been in operation since 1974. It was built by local contributions responding to local concerns about the need for children to learn to swim. Since then it has been operated and managed by community trustees and sustained by local fundraising and support,” he said.

“The building plays an important role in providing swimming facilities for our communities in the west of the district. We know swimming is the most popular sport in Craven and provides a significant opportunity to increase participation in sport.

“Creating a community health hub in Settle, by providing a multi-purpose studio space, would not only help safeguard the future of the pool by diversifying their income but would also ensure a much needed community fitness space was created for Settle. Now more than ever, ensuring our residents have access to facilities to improve health and wellbeing has never been more important.”

Cllr Richard Welch (Con, Penyghent) said the pool was used by schools, visitors and locals. “It is a fantastic facility for north and mid Craven,” he said. Cllr Welch also paid tribute to the volunteers who collected waste paper as part of fundraising for the pool, although a dropping in value of waste paper had made it less busy than in previous years, and to the pool charity shop.

“Settle Pool committee has worked their socks off to try and get things running,” he said.

Cllr Simon Myers (Con, Gargrave) said he was also very much in favour of the project which would help the health and wellbeing of those in the area, although he also had ‘slight concerns’ about the sustainability of the business model, post Covid, and agreed that it ought to be dependent on the approval of the council’s financial team.