Our own special-interest wasteful pet project in Ipswich is the ongoing saga to restore a dilapidated lido stuck in a built-up area of north west Ipswich closed by the last Labour administration at Ipswich Borough Council.
It was a millstone around the former Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition at the Council and it is proving to be so again now the people – i.e. Labour – who closed it are back in power.
The grandly titled Broomhill Pool Trust have demanded £1M of taxpayers money to try and turn a pocket of Ipswich back to the 1950s.
I am old fashioned kind of guy who would have probably suited the 1950s quite well with its national pride and polite values but I am also a realist and know we don’t live in the 1950s any more. We live in the year 2011 and things have somewhat moved on since then. I hate to point it out to the Broomhill Trust but most people, and especially the core working generation (those in their 30s and 40s) don’t want a lido in Ipswich. They would prefer it if they could buy a house, or could drive along a smooth road or, shock horror, had more of the money which the Council seems to have available to give special-interest groups in their own pockets!
Last night, Ipswich Borough Council’s Executive were presented with three options on what to do with the closed lido site. They were listed by Sally Wainman at Ipswich Spy. It seems from the
Morning Evening Star article that Option 1 was chosen and the Labour Council will support Fusion Lifestyle in restoring the pool by offering £1M of taxpayers money IF Fusion Lifestyle can obtain another £3M, probably from a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
I’m going to stick my neck out and predict that Fusion will not get their money: there are strict rules on HLF not being used for leisure purposes and it is patently obvious Fusion want to make a profit out of running a leisure facility. And why should the State be propping up private enterprise anyway?
What would I do: turn the site back to parkland with some land set aside for housing.
Housing is in such short supply and is one of the reasons why the current working generation will end up poorer than their parents. Surely the Council, who get most of their money from the working generation, could target their efforts at helping the majority of its residents out first. Unfortunately, good old democracy and low voter turnout will get in the way of this bright idea.