Thursday, October 15, 2015

Costs to open paddling pool next year unknown to Councillor - discussion at River CC meeting last night.

At the regular meeting of River Community Council last night in the URC hall, the chair, Tommy Hogg asked Liz MacDonald to enlighten the meeting as to how things were progressing with the Nairn Links Paddling Pool. It emerged that the cost of opening the pool next year is presently unknown until a decision is made on how to proceed: 

Liz said: “I flagged it up at the last Community Council meeting because I think, the last time, at the beginning of this year we had to spend four thousand pounds for temporary repairs and there’s going to be significant costs to next year’s paddling pool. I think it’s only fair we put it out to the community and let them know what the situation is. I can’t actually give you the...I don’t know the details of how much it will cost to do, to open the pool next year but one of the proposals that we've considered a few years ago was reducing the size of the pool. Maybe building a wall across and cutting off a third of it or less than a third of it so as we don’t need to have supervision lifeguard. As well as that the pool was open for 44 days this summer. It’s not been open very much at all. The weather has not been great for it enough but...I do think...nobody wants to lose the paddling pool that’s for sure but I think we need to be open and let the community input to what happens down there.”

Tommy said: “It is an icon to the town I think myself.”

Liz continued: “It’s a very, it’s historical and it’s also a calming soothing place to be. I’ve been down quite a few times over the summer speaking to parents round about the pool, speaking to the business owner down there and I’ve raised it at the community council because I think it is important that it gets thrashed out. It’s an amenity and it was raised actually at one of the groups that we had, parents were saying well we could have something we could use all year round instead if it was going to be a significant cost.

So I mean, it is just airing the thing, nobody said we are going to close the paddling pool. What we said is we are going to consult on it and we are going to take on board what you are saying and bring forward proposals for everybody and a few years ago in 2012 we did have proposals that were drawn up. People have said we don’t maintain the pool but over the years it has cost a lot in maintenance, not only we’ve had to sort the coping stones that were all chipped, get the net, build the fence round it, sort the pump room, paint it just about every year to seal it and you know it hasn’t been a cheap thing to keep going and we’re getting all that costs added up just now by officers. Because the way the information is stored on the Oracle you can’t just get it easy. I thought we would get that information quite easy but it takes a lot of searching about within the systems to get all the costs out. So I think it is just flagging it up and trying to be honest with folk and to give them an opportunity to input what we do before next year. Because if we left it to next year it would be too late. We have to discuss it now and discuss it now and come to an option that suits all those folk. 

There then followed several probing questions and comment from community councillors and members of the public present. The Gurn hopes to publish more from last night’s paddling pool debate over the next day or two.


Not good enough said...

‘Nobody said we are going to close the paddling pool’.

So why Liz are you bandying about artists impressions of what the area might look like without the pool?

Why are you attending meetings and saying there needs to be consultation if the future of the pool is secure.

A huge number of people signed up to a Facebook page to save our paddling pool including ironically you. Does this body of public opinion not tell you something? Let me spell out, we want to keep our paddling pool

The ‘Oracle’ that you refer to is Highland Councils financial system. If you have problems being able to glean data from it I would have thought by now after all your years as a councilor you might know someone who might be able to help you extract the information you require? What is the point in attending community council meetings to talk about this matter when you’re unable to extract basic financial figures? Should one of us make a Freedom of Information request on your behalf?

You talk about reducing the size of the pool. I assume this would be to negate the need for a lifeguard. But what size are we talking about in reality; a ‘third’ seems very vague. Why don’t you have firm figures for the community so we know what is being talked about

You talk of ‘groups’. Who makes up these groups and how do people become part of these important discussion groups

All in all a very disappointing performance from our councilor who seems to me to have taken on the role of a council official rather than someone trying to fight to save an amenity in our town

Anonymous said...

...."and the pool was only open for 44 days this summer"... Why? Could the fact that it was closed for 'maintenance' have something to do with that? Or has Liz just chosen to give a selected view and miss out that fact?

...."but over the years it has cost a lot in maintenance".... Is the provision of a net and fence really maintenance costs?

..."I thought we would get that information quite easy"... Is that not what the council officials are employed for, surely they should be able to supply information such as this, quickly and accurately, to the Councillors if requested?

Anonymous said...

If Liz hasn't got the figures how does she know that the pool with cost 'thousands' next year

What's her agenda, is she wanting the paddling pool closed?

Anonymous said...

In 2012 we didn't want to close the paddling pool so what's changed now? Why does Liz continue to attend meetings putting forward the idea of alternatives to the popular pool -

Robert Holder set up a Facebook page to save our paddling pool, Liz is a member of that group. Why as a Nairn councillor is she not fighting to keep a well liked landmark rather than always putting forward alternatives

Graisg said...

"If Liz hasn't got the figures how does she know that the pool with cost 'thousands' next year"
There has been apparently a quote for work but it is covered by commercial confidentiality more in the next article.

Head below the parapet said...

Give Liz her due at least she is instigating some sort of discussion on the paddling pool. Just in case anyone has forgotten there are 3 other councillors for Nairn. What are they saying about this subject?

Anonymous said...

Yes what is the position of the other three councillors. Perhaps they would like to make themselves heard.

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand in all this is that we know there are going to massive cut backs in council services so why is Cllr Liz MacDonald putting forward almost utopian ideas as a replacement for the paddling pool?

Fair enough to say we might have to close the pool but not to then promise very expensive looking play alternatives. I could understand her argument more if we knew what the costs of repairs are going to be but I cannot see the logic in planning to close the pool and yet spend money on play items

It seems to me there's an alternative agenda at work here that she's not being honest about

Graisg said...

The paddling pool is funded by the Common Good Fund anon so any money for repairs or upgrade or a change to a playpark or the splash park that was even mooted would come out of Common Good funds if there were enough cash available.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if there was a budget for new equipment but none for repairs that would explain the removal of the big slide, but as you've said @Graisg the paddling pool comes under the remit of the Common Good Fund that I wouldn't have thought had very specific budgets like that?

Hopefully our paddling pool will be saved

Anonymous said...

Other areas have done away with paddling pools because of high maintenance costs and health and safety issues. In Nairn, parents - real parents - not just anti-Council or anti-Liz folk - have to be fully informed about the pros and the cons, the costs and the alternatives.
The 4 Councillors need to listen to what these parents think are the best options for them and their families. Perhaps the 2 primary schools might survey all parents once all the necessary info is in the public domain?

Anonymous said...

Dearie me. Having read the latest instalment of poolgate (above this post) I can only ask why folk are so muddled, good job they're not running the town :-)

If the date for tenders has not been reached yet then why is this on the floor for discussion, seems to be a waste of hot air

Why weren't various options for the pool tendered for so that there was a choice over what happens to the pool

I'm not a structural engineer specialising in pools but if the foundations have movement I would have thought a rubber lining might be appropriate?

And to think some people want local government returned to Nairn. God help us if this is an example of what it would be like

Meet Mike He Swims Like A Fish said...

Why on earth is a lifeguard required to monitor the paddling pool when the open sea is just a few yards away and is unsupervised for most of the year. I'm all for health and safety but this seems completely OTT.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused said...

I wanted to make a comment on the next instalment of the paddling pool saga but that option doesn’t seem to be available so I’ll do it here instead. Liz mentions commercial confidentiality and gives an idiots guide to what happens if everyone knows how much a tender is for, she then goes on to say that they were given a price to make the pool sound. From this statement it would seem that this price was only from one source – surely any repairs should go out to tender and not be based on a single option?

Nairnite said...

hsg179. - a Health and Safety guidance document, is not statutory law. Although it refers to specific items of statute legislation which must be considered by Highland Council as the pool operator. It clearly states provision of supervision should be done on a risk assessment basis.

Having said that as a small child, I didn't drown once, or know anyone in my school who drowned in the swimming pool. I also never drowned in the sea once, as an older child when using the nearby beach. Again I don't know anyone who drowned not even once in the sea.

In short when I was growing up I wasn't aware of any deaths in the paddling pool and no lifeguard was present. So what makes the pool more dangerous now??

I also find the talk at the meeting of "DIY approach" fibre glass repairs as comical. The solution to leaks is best suggested by a specialist contractor, and not some misinformed but well intentioned local who has no technical expertise. Surely or surely one day these CC meetings will have discussions of some meaning and not meaningless conjecture, with no real agreed outcome. I dream on anyway.

Anonymous said...

Further to the next instalment which is not open for comment:

Liz said "If someone gives you a price for something and we say it publically then if everyone that was tendering for that work could then put it in at the same price or a couple of hundred less to get the job. " Now if I understand this it is being paid for out of OUR Common Good Fund, so we should be looking at the best value for money. Has the Council taken any advice over what reasonable costs should be against which this (sole?) tender can be validated? And why isn't it a good idea to put some idea into the public domain in the expectation that another tenderer will undercut it and save us some money?

moan ranger said...

How fantastic to see our local representatives being held to account, and somewhat squirming under scrutiny!

watergate said...

Some boats are made of concrete Liz a little like the paddling pool

Looks like we're being asked to bulldoze the pool anyhow so repair materials seem unimportant