A local MP says Lichfield District Council has “done an amazing job” supporting swimmer during the coronavirus.
Michael Fabricant’s comments came after it was confirmed the pool and other facilities at Friary Grange Leisure Centre would reopen on 24th October.
Users have been forced to travel to other locations, including Burntwood Leisure Centre, after the decision was made not to immediately reopen the facility in Lichfield after coronavirus restrictions were eased.
The Conservative MP said the local authority had bucked the national trend by getting one of the pools it owns open.
“Lichfield District Council have done a amazing job supporting swimmers during this COVID-19 crisis.
“While around a half of all district councils in England have had absolutely no swimming facilities open at all, Lichfield District Council have kept the leisure centre in Burntwood open for most of the time.
“And now, the reopening of Friary Grange will mean that the Council will be operating two swimming pools once more and will be one of the few District Councils to do so.”Michael Fabricant MP
Lichfield Swimming Club are among the groups who have been forced to move sessions as a result of the prolonged closure of Friary Grange, with members backing calls for an earlier reopening of the site.
Mr Fabricant said it was important that the benefits of swimming were not underestimated.
“Last Tuesday I met the organisers and some of the parents of Lichfield Swimming Club at Burntwood Leisure Centre and saw their activities.
“The club is one of the most active in the Midlands with youngsters getting training and developing their technique.
“One parent told me it also helped her son mentally. He is autistic and the experience of joining in swimming with others on a weekly basis has been of great benefit to him personally and helped his overall behaviour.
“The direct and indirect benefits of swimming clubs cannot be overlooked.
“Sian Thompson from the club told me it has been a real trial trying to use three different swimming pool locations while Friary Grange has been closed – with the reopening, the club can return home.”Michael Fabricant MP
Lichfield District Council has already outlined plans for a long-term replacement for Friary Grange Leisure Centre.
Land at Stychbrook Park has been earmarked for a new facility – and Mr Fabricant said he was committed to helping the council access funding to make a new centre a reality.
“Friary Grange is not the long term answer to swimming in Lichfield.
“It is an old building, costly to run, and without the wonderful facilities enjoyed by Burntwood.
“I am in close contact with Cllr Doug Pullen, the leader of Lichfield District Council, and I know that it is their intention to open a brand new swimming and sports complex by 2024 – maybe 2023 – and I will do all I can do to help obtain funding.
“It will make Lichfield district one of the best in the country for sports facilities.”Michael Fabricant MP