A new public pool for Leighton Buzzard debated as council looks to improve leisure provision

If Leighton Buzzard and Linslade have to rely on one leisure centre, a dramatic change is needed in sustainable transport across the town, it has been claimed.
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Two threads of Central Bedfordshire Council’s leisure strategy were being analysed by its executive, ahead of a formal consultation period.

Conservative councillor Ian Dalgarno told the committee the strategy is reviewed every five years. The local authority’s leisure facilities and physical activities strategies were developed with consultants WYG and Sport England, he said.

The new draft strategy sets out an ambition to increase levels of physical activity and reduce inactivity in Central Bedfordshire, according to a report to the executive.

Relaunch of Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre as lifestyles@tiddenfoot following 2m investment from Central Beds Council in 2014Relaunch of Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre as lifestyles@tiddenfoot following 2m investment from Central Beds Council in 2014
Relaunch of Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre as lifestyles@tiddenfoot following 2m investment from Central Beds Council in 2014

Independent Linslade councillor Victoria Harvey called for the targets to be slightly stronger for increasing physical activity.

“I wish there was a stronger link to biodiversity and climate change in light of the council’s recent commitment to spend £1.6m on tree planting,” she said.

“There’s a body of work shows improving biodiversity and topography in parks and green spaces can increase physical activity. On the leisure side I have a lot of concerns around Tiddenfoot. It’s hard for people from the other side of town to get there.

“If we’re going to have only one leisure centre, there has to be a dramatic step change in how we deal with transport and sustainable transport in the town.

“And does it have to be one pool?” she asked. “We’re going to be 40,000 to 50,000 in Leighton Buzzard.

“If it’s only one pool, it would be used to 90 per cent of capacity. That doesn’t give much space for an increase in physical activity.”

Liberal Democrat Linslade councillor Peter Snelling said: “On the physical side, I largely echo councillor Harvey. We share the same ward.

“And we all have concerns about the future of Tiddenfoot. Locally we need more provision. But it needs to be on an accessible site, not stuck out on the site of new development, which would be in Eggington parish anyway and not in the town.

“We need to ask Cedars Upper School whether it would be prepared to take over this site and the running of it.

“We need to delay this consultation until the current crisis is out of the way.”

A local view emerged about retaining Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre swimming pool, as well as developing a new public pool elsewhere in Leighton Buzzard, said the report.

Keeping the swimming pool is linked to retaining the sports hall and possibly other facilities on site.

The option is to investigate keeping Tiddenfoot with changes in the management and operation, as well as providing a new centre.

Councillor Dalgarno replied: “Councillor Harvey’s climate change comments works well for the section on open spaces, which will be reviewed in the coming years.

“Tiddenfoot is a fantastic facility, but it’s too small. We need to improve facilities in Leighton Buzzard.

“One of the things we’ve highlighted is the need to consult and look at the future use of that site.

“We need to see whether we put it into other ownership, and consider if it goes to community groups or schools.”

The meeting was declared informal, with the council leader and Conservative Westoning, Flitton and Greenfield councillor James Jamieson saying that no firm policy decisions could be taken.

“This isn’t the leisure strategy itself. It is a chapter of it,” he told the executive.

he committee agreed the strategy could be formally consulted on at an appropriate time.