Axe to fall on Oldham Diving Club

A GROTTON mother says Oldham Diving Club will cease to exist after Oldham Council’s decision not to build a pool in the town’s new sports centre.

CAMPAIGNING: Anna Oldfield
CAMPAIGNING: Anna Oldfield

Anna Oldfield, whose daughter Abigail will be one of the divers affected when the current pool closes in 2015, has led a 14-month battle to have a diving pool incorporated in the new building.

That included a 3,000 name petition which contained the names of current Olympic medallist Tom Daley and his coach Andy Banks who was also a judge on the recent diving television show ‘Splash.’

But last month members of Oldham Diving Club were informed that no pool was to be included in the new sports centre on the grounds of cost.

Anna says the figure of £1.5million has been cited to include a diving pool, but she believes that can be vastly reduced.

It has been suggested that the family pool could have a removable floor so it can double up as a multi-functional pool for diving, scuba diving and water polo.

Anna explained: “The Amateur Swimming Association is willing to have talks with the Council over ways it can be done for less money as Andy Banks has also offered to do likewise.

“It appears the final decision has been made and the Council will not change its mind which means diving will come to an end in Oldham after 30 years.

“It is sad it cannot continue for future generations because Oldham has produced divers who have won national and international honours while Naomi Bishop represented Great Britain in two Olympic Games.”

Anna is also unhappy with Council officials claiming they had failed to fulfil a promise to maintain a dialogue with the divers.

She explained: “Our last meeting was in September 2012 when the Council promised to involve us in further discussions and consultations.

“I kept in touch but the Council fobbed us off. Then on April 11th we were informed that the decision had been made and no diving pool was to be included.”

Councillor Hugh McDonald, Oldham Council Cabinet Minister, explained that they cannot afford a diving pool on the grounds of cost.

He said: “Oldham Council has lost an additional £7.5million of funding since the new sports centre was proposed and that will impact over the whole Council.

“We have pledge to protect adult services and unfortunately we don’t have the money to build a diving pool.”

Cllr McDonald is keen that members of Oldham Diving Club continue their dialogue with Council officers.

He explained: “The new sports centre won’t be completed until the end of 2015 and things could change before then, though I don’t hold out a lot of hope in the current climate.

“If Oldham Diving Club is aware of any funding which may be available from outside sources, please let us know as we are keen to explore any leads.”

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