MORE than 300 people have signed a petition to reopen Whitchurch Swimming Centre.

Nick Saxby, a resident of Whitchurch and father of two children who were learning to swim at the pool, put questions to Shropshire Council's cabinet last week over the ongoing closure of the town's public swimming pool.

Councillor Lezley Picton, portfolio holder for leisure provision at the council, responded with assurances that the council were committed to the long term survival of the swimming pool, and were currently looking into a possible leak in the pool which was preventing its reopening.

But Mr Saxby remains critical of the council's response.

"I listened to councillor Picton's responses, and was pleased to hear that the council is committed to the eventual reopening of the swimming centre," said Mr Saxby.

"However, the spirit of my questions was the get more information about what has been done so far, but there was little detail on this.

"Councillor Picton made it very clear that the building is not a Covid-secure environment, but this is not news.

"We have known, and accepted this, since the beginning of the first lockdown.

"What the people of Whitchurch want, is to know exactly why/how.

"If we know what the issues are, we can work on problem-solving for them."

Mr Saxby has now launched a petition to allow local people to share their support and thoughts on the issue.

"The more people sign this petition, the stronger our case will be for the council to take some action," he added.

"We have two more weeks of this lockdown, but social distancing measures may be with us for a long time to come the size and needs of Whitchurch warrant having a public pool.

"The council should be proactively working on how to make the facilities safe enough to use, as there are potential public health benefits being missed."

Mr Saxby says he has already partnered with several other local people with an interest in reopening the pool, and says they are working on investigating ways to make the centre compatible with national social distancing measures.

In the two days since launching, the petition has received more than 300 signatures, which Mr Saxby described as an overwhelming response.

"In just two days, more than 300 local people have signed the petition," said Mr Saxby. "The community's response to this issue has been overwhelming.

"It is abundantly clear that the people of Whitchurch support taking action to make the pool viable.

"I hope even more people join in on this issue in the coming days."

After being approached for comment, Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council Cabinet member for culture, leisure, waste and communications, said: "The health and safety of residents, facility users and our staff is our top priority.

"We understand and share the frustration people are feeling during the temporary closure currently required, and regret that the closure is being perceived as permanent.

"Were ventilation the only factor preventing the facility from reopening, then the pool would have been opened earlier in the year, at the same time as others in Shropshire.

"However, the design of the Whitchurch Swimming Centre does not allow for the government's required social distancing measures to be put in place, meaning we cannot offer a Covid-19 secure environment to allow safe access.

"The reopening plans for this facility will however be further complicated by a water leak from the pool which must be addressed.

"During the closure, we have been working with Shropshire Community Leisure Trust and the council's property services team to investigate the cause of the leak with a view to reopening the centre when social distancing regulations are relaxed by the Government."