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‘CCTV FILMED ME BEING SHOT’

£1m PLANS TO SPLASH POOL CASH

BY ALEX CAMPBELL

alex.campbell@thesentinel.co.uk

MORE than £500,000 is set to ‘WONDDER STRIKE? IT WASN’T BAAD’ be invested in new swimming facilities at a councilrun leisure com- POPULAR POOL plex – just three FACES THE AXE years after the centre’s pool was threatened with closure. Stoke-on-Trent City Council will provide the cash if it can find private funding or grants to take the total investment at Dimensions to at least £1 million. It comes three years after plans to close the splash pool at the Burslem centre were scrapped. That sparked a political storm which led to the arrest of two senior politicians and a leading businessman. Council officials today said it was too early to say whether the pool would entirely replace existing facilities, although the authority’s aspiration is for a ‘new swimming pool’ at Dimensions. Assistant director of neighbourhood engagement Judith Kirk told councillors: “We have to make sure the facilities are fit for the future and this proposal reflects that.” The proposed investment at Dimensions folYour Target Target for a fantastic deal deal

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Monday, February 25, 2008

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PUPILS ON THE MARCH TO SAVE THEIR SCHOOLS

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Picture: Wesley Webster

stops robbery

BY JESSICA WILLIAMS AND LAURA NAYLOR

jessica.williams@thesentinel.co.uk

SWIMMING facilities at a council-run leisure centre are under threat after plans were revealed to save £60,000. Stoke-on-Trent City Council is considering closing the splash pool at Dimensions Leisure Centre, Burslem, as part of cutbacks over the next three years. The closure would form part of an overall plan to save up to £200,000 by restructuring councilrun leisure centres across the city. Councillor Mohammed Pervez, pictured, the council’s

portfolio holder for community services, said: “One thing that needs to be stressed is that we are considering closing the splash pool, not the whole of the Dimensions Leisure Centre. “We have been losing money with the splash pool, and it is in need of refurbishment which would require significant investment. “There are many similar facilities nearby such as in Tunstall and at Fenton Manor.” The full council is due to vote on the closure at a meeting on Thursday. A report says £44,000 could be saved from the direct running costs of the splash pool – complete

with slides, rapids and water jets – and a further £16,000 if the council scraps plans for a refurbishment due next year. It says the closure of the splash pool would be followed by a review of other leisure services. It adds: “This will determine whether more significant savings can be made. The potential outcome will be the closure of further facilities or private sector partnership.” Staff at Dimensions said 600 people had already signed a petition to keep the pool. Burslem councillor Joy Garner, deputy leader of the city council’s Labour Group, said: “Maybe we should be looking at reviewing prices and better advertising, rather than

shutting what is a very valued service down.” Councillor Peter Kent-Baguley, leader of the Potteries Alliance Group, said: “You either believe in the policy of marketing everything and seeing the prices go up, or in the good old ethos of public services being run for the people at prices they can afford. I subscribe to the latter.” Hayley Bath, of Tunstall, has two daughters, aged two and four who use the pool. The 40-year-old said: “There is nowhere else that offers the same, at an affordable price.”

What do you think of plans to close the splash pool? Email us at letters@ thesentinel.co.uk

A QUICK-thinking customer stopped a robbery by a knifeman by throwing a can of beer at him. The woman hurled the makeshift missile seconds after the robber had burst into the Bargain Booze store, in Chesterton, It hit the masked thug on the side of the head and forced him to flee from the shop empty-handed. Police praised the woman for remaining calm in such terrifying circumstances. The attack happened at around 9.10pm on Friday in Beasley Place. Anyone with information should call Newcastle CID on 01785 234901 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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It comes months after the council spent £44,000 resolving a long-running legal dispute with WaterWorld owner Mo Chaudry. Mr Chaudry – who was arrested and later released without charge – was paid about £22,000 by the council. The entrepreneur threatened to sue the council after claiming the authority broke a secret deal to shut the splash pool and pay him £100,000-per-year to offer a discount at his Festival Park attraction. Mr Chaudry said he could only support the new plans if it means the splash pool being replaced and asked the council to look again at partnerships with private swimming facilities. He added: “It makes no economic sense to me for the council to build another pool and keep an existing, heavily-subsidised facility open. “It would be a ludicrous decision to have two pools open at the same location when the complex is already being subsidised. “The only real option is to reconfigure the existing splash pool to a normal swimming pool. “Anything other than this would be mindless and uneconomic.”

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What do you think of the plans? Email us at letters@thesentinel.co.uk

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THE assistant chief constable of Staffordshire Police is one of four top officers under investigation over allegations of misconduct. Formal notices of investigation have been served on the senior officers, including assistant chief constable Jane Sawyers. The allegations relate to a murder investigation by Staffordshire Police into the shooting of a Wolverhampton drug dealer. The investigation, managed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, concerns allegations that evidence was withheld. The other former Staffordshire officers under investigation are Adrian Lee, chief constable of Northamptonshire, Suzette Davenport, deputy chief constable of Northamptonshire and Marcus Beale, assistant chief constable with the West Midlands force. A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said the issuing of notices of investigation into an officer’s conduct is not meant to imply any wrongdoing. He added: “Such notices are not judgmental and we need to let the ongoing investigation establish the facts. As a result, the Police Authority has taken the decision not to suspend the officer.”

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DISMAY: Residents’ Association chairman Terry Cope, and inset, our story on the planned closure in 2008.

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Top officer is investigated

New swimming complex will be built at Dimensions site

lows the closure of swimming pools in Tunstall and Shelton as part of £35.6 million cuts in 2011/12. A host of cuts to swimming services are also planned for 2012/13, including forcing schools to pay extra for swimming lessons and ending the subsidy paid to the City of Stoke-on-Trent Swimming Club. Terry Cope, chairman of Greenfields Residents’ Association, in Tunstall, said: “The people of Tunstall have been misled. “This £500,000 would have kept both Tunstall and Shelton pools going and they were two pools that were very necessary for their communities.” Councillor Dave Conway, leader of the opposition City Independents, who campaigned to save the splash pool, said: “I’m not against investment, but was this at the cost of Tunstall and Shelton?” The Dimensions investment is planned over the next three years. It also involves an overhaul of gym facilities.

Tel. 01782 286006

QUESTIONS: Assistant chief constable Jane Sawyers.

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Leisure facilities to be scrapped to fund council cutbacks Can of beer

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