Sunday, February 03, 2008

Cheam Baths in Hot Water

Residents in Cheam were shocked and disappointed to read that Cheam Baths may be earmarked for closure by the LibDem Council as part of their leisure centre strategy. Instead, residents and schoolchildren who want to use the second most popular centre in the Borough will have to travel to Sutton or even out of Borough to Merton and Epsom.

At a recent Council meeting Graham Tope, LibDem spokesman for Leisure, justified the significant recent price hikes but refused to give a cast-iron guarantee that the centre would be retained. John Kennedy said in response that Lord Tope has gone from "the Cardinal Wolsey of the LibDems to the Gordon Brittas of Leisure in Sutton."

Jonathan Pritchard, Conservative candidate for the upcoming Cheam By-election said afterwards “Local people want local leisure services, they don't want to be forced to travel across the borough or to neighbouring boroughs. The threat looming over Cheam Baths will particularly impact on local residents, Cheam schools and the leisure centre staff. The Council needs to be up-front about this instead of claiming they simply don't know.”

Cheam Leisure Centre has the second highest footfall of all the Leisure Centres in Sutton behind Westcroft. Both centres need a lot of money spending on them to bring them up to scratch but the LibDems seem to be heading for the nuclear option by replacing them with a single centre in the middle of Sutton town centre. The consultant's report has been sat on a desk since December and any decision has been pushed ever further back to Easter. This could have a significant effect on Carshalton as well as Cheam.

18 comments:

shemi in cheam said...

how can the lib council and mr tope even think about closing the leisure centre in cheam & if they do we wont have a leisure center for miles!

shemi
cheam

Ursula Bumolian said...

Another plant. My god talk about an egotistical blog.

Scully said...

Ursula

Not sure what you are referring to when you describe this as an egotistical blog because of Shemi's comment. I have always posted under my own name and don't ask people to post specific comments. Instead I encourage anyone and everyone to give feedback and start debate. I just wish you would have the balls to post under your own name or at least have a debate. Yet again we see another pseudonym with a meaningless negative comment. I suggest you add a log to the UKIP website and speak to yourselves.

shemi in cheam said...

i'm no plant and i am entitled to my opinion on the blog! thats what its for!

the council does not listen to the ordinary people but i am glad for having councillor paul scullys blog to put my opinion on

thanks councillor

shemi

Cllr David Pickles said...

So what are the Tories going to do about it? The full council meeting a few weeks back descended into farce with a Tory councillor bellowing into the microphone like a spoilt child, waving a £10 note around for some cheap publicity stunt which achieved absolutely nothing. Of course the loss of Cheam baths would be a huge blow, but it's most unlike the Tories to want a Lib-Dem council to write a blank cheque - or is it because there is a by-election on the way, and the Tories will jump on any bandwagon to get a headline? Shades of Cameroonianism there I feel.

The answer must be a proper and public debate. I don't think council-tax payers in general would thank the Tories for shouting loudly about pumping vast amounts of their money into a place that is literally falling apart at the seams. Some lateral thinking has to be done here, which seems beyond the wit of the Tories.

michael said...

Mr Pickles,

As a Cheam resident and a taxpayer, I wasn't present at the council meeting you refer to but I have listened to the tape available online.

Quick question: if you're concerned about the 'deep blow' of Cheam Baths potential closure, why was it seemingly beyond your wit to the contribute to the debate?

I see no evidence of a contribution from you, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

aardvark said...

Lateral thinking or should that be lateral drinking whick looks like what Cllr Pickles seems to do before he posts..

Scully said...

David

Again, it is good that you have finally had the courage of your convictions to post under your own name.

I was surprised that you made no comment at the Council meeting if you feel so strongly about this matter. You say that the answer is a proper and public debate, yet fail to participate in that debate.

We don't want the LibDems to sign a blank cheque. They wanted a bipartisan approach to this before Christmas, knowing that they needed to make what would be an unpopular decision. They are spending £500,000 on the Centre this year, yet it is still under threat of closure so they need no encouragement from us to spend money.

We need to look at ways of combining private development with the supply of public facilities. The previous report on this matter completed a few years back suggested that the sites best suited in Sutton were the Lenham Road car park or Robin Hood School. The school is included in the new Local Development Framework as a possible redevelopment site.

UKIP's proposal to allow a small development at the back of the site would not make much of a dent in the cost of rebuilding the centre. It also appears to require the demolition of a day centre that is located in that area.

It is a complicated issue that needs openness and due consideration. The meeting raised awareness that this plan was on the cards. Residents and schools that used the centre were blissfully unaware that the threat was there.

Cllr David Pickles said...

Paul - that is a very sensible comment, and I will ignore those on your thread that are attempting to castigate me for not being part of the debate. Our proposal is for a small development at the back, granted, which would actually go a longer way than you think to reconstructing a new centre. If we are to believe that there is such a demand for housing then land prices may be worth a lot more than you and I think. Regardless of our differences, UKIP are with you all the way in that Cheam baths should not close, but if it has to, it is as Frank Day said in one of our leaflets, that we don't want the local taxpayer to subsidise a facility that is failing to attract a sufficient number of people. Now I stand to be corrected on the actual numbers, but I'm sure you and I would agree that a solution to this problem must be found. Personally, and from a UKIP point of view, I am against the rebuilding of this nearer Sutton town centre, because the residents of Cheam need their own facility.

So there really is no need for anybody anonymous on this thread to attack me, because in all probability our thoughts on this are rather similar.

michael said...

Thank you for your response, Mr Pickles. But sadly you haven't addressed the question I posed for you.

Why didn't you contribute to the debate on this topic? Why did you sit on the sidelines and choose silence?

david said...

Where in the town centre would it be?

Cllr David Pickles said...

Michael - you have listened to the debate, do you not think it descended into farce when a Tory councillor stood up and waved a ten pound note? Do you not think that absolutely nothing was achieved in the debate, therefore I didn't find it quite fitting to put in my comments

Scully said...

David

Two sites were highlighted in the original report. Lenham Road car park and Robin Hood Primary. Interestingly, the new Local Development Framework that is being consulted on has Robin Hood School earmarked for transfer so the site can be redeveloped.

michael said...

Mr Pickles, thank you for your clearer response.

I have listened to the council meeting and I did hear the Conservative party councillor make 'a bet' with the Liberal Democrat leisure guy. It was clearly a stunt to draw attention to the issue and it looks like it has worked judging by the front page of a local paper the week before last. I now think that more people know about the issue.

I'm not well versed in the local political scene but the first I learnt of the Cheam Baths issue was when it was when a Conservative knocked on my door. I didn't get the guy's name but I was really impressed and frankly surprised.

We all hear and engage in conversations and debates with content we don't agree with and even stuff that makes us angry. But we don't achieve anything by saying nothing and letting things carry on undisturbed. If you thought that the Tory councillor's contribution was a farce, as you say, then why not make that point there and then in the chamber? If you felt so strongly why didn't you take him up on it?

That's what I'm struggling here with, Mr Pickles. Aren't elected representatives supposed to stand up and be counted when things go on which you feel strongly about? Isn't that why we elected people in the first place.

With respect, if you think the debate achieved nothing as you say, then you are implicated in that failure by your silence. And perhaps by saying nothing you run the risk of being more responsible for Cheam bath's closure than the Lib Dem guy deciding to axe it.

Cllr David Pickles said...

Yes Michael - I take your point, but reading between the lines, it's quite obvious you have a personal axe to grind where I am concerned, therefore I am not going to enter into any more debate with you. If you live in Belmont ward, then you will be quite aware of the work I do on behalf of my constituents. If you don't then I can only conclude that you are planted here on behalf of the tories to attempt (feebly) to make me look inadequate. If you would care to stand for council, however, and then achieve what I have achieved for the people of this borough - namely stopping the Lib-Dems from imposing fortnightly rubbish collections, which have saved people like you from disease and maggots - then by all means let met know. I might even deliver some leaflets for you!

aardvark said...

Thank God fot Cllr Pickles or perhaps he should now be known as Nurse Florence Pickles after saving us all from disease.
When was that campaign again?
Whose banner did you do it under? The Pickles party perhaps.

michael said...

Mr Pickles, I have no personal axe to grind I am merely trying to establish why as you are a pointed critic of the Council’s administration (rightly so in my view as the Lib Dems do nothing for me in Cheam apart from gift me a nice big council tax bill for no tangible benefit each year) you didn’t contribute to a debate in the proper forum in which to do so. A debate, it must be added, which is of massive interest to people in the local area.

I am most certainly not planted for the Conservatives (although they usually get my vote but even more so following recent events). I’ll take anyone up on a point which I think is inadequate. For example the ten-pound bet issue was clearly a publicity stunt and we live in an age of political publicity stunts, but my point is the Tory councillor (I forget his name) that did it drew a lot of attention to the issue. In that sense he’s been successful albeit in a brazen way.

I’m puzzled by the sudden leap to bin collections – what does that have to do with the matter in hand? Namely Cheam Baths.

I have no political aspirations. I leave that to the politicians. Plus there are good reasons why I can’t.

I’m disappointed if you won’t continue to ‘debate’ with me, I thought that was the whole point of a political blog!

shemi in cheam said...

its not good enough not to talk about an issue and then to say that the issue is an importance one! as michael says politicians needs to make sure they speak up on the things that are happening if they do not do this then what is the point of havong them!!

where can i listen to the council debate please??