CHARD’S Cresta Swimming Pool has had the doors slammed shut with time now ticking for the community to take over before leisure centre is demolished.

Somerset County Council decided last week to close the pool at the end of the summer holidays and ‘mothball’ it for three months.

The Kingfisher Community Group now has until September 14 to produce a fully costed business plan.

However, SCC has demanded the group take over running costs of the pool starting on Monday - although the council is still yet to reveal what those running costs are.

Amanda Broom, county councillor for Chard North and member of the Kingfisher core group, has written a letter refusing to pay up until SCC are able to say how big the bill will be.

She said: “Unfortunately, it’s difficult to express how disappointed we are with the answers and the worrying perception that SCC have absolutely no idea of the running costs of their property.

“We are now of an increasing perception that SCC are not taking our initiative seriously due to demands being placed on us that would not normally be placed on other businesses or organisations.

“Therefore, I need to inform you that without any firm costing figures available from SCC, the Kingfisher Communtiy Pool will NOT be accepting any running cost liability on the pool.”

As Somerset County Council is either refusing to or unable to cooperate, the group has issued an ultimatum.

They will meet on September 12 to decide if it is worth continuing the fight to save the pool.

Cllr Broom said: “No business or individual would accept any liability on a product before knowing the costs to which they are committing.

“Whether from a lack of knowledge or lack of will, it is very disappointing SCC do not seem to have grasped the fact that there is an opportunity here for SCC to work positively with the community.”

If Kingfisher Community Group and the county council are not able to come to an agreement, the pool will be permanent decommissioned from mid-January.

Somerset County Council say the pool has outlived its planned lifespan by more than a decade and now needs more than £1m of investment to replace failing equipment and to bring it up to standard.

Facing significant financial pressures, the council says it is not in a position to fund this work, and highlights that regeneration plans for Chard launched recently by South Somerset District Council include a pool as part of leisure facilities.

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: “We have agreed to pay the mothballing costs for the pool.

“The group has asked for some additional actions - regular inspection of the pool and that we keep the pumps running - and those are the costs that the group would be asked to contribute to.

“We appreciate efforts being made to find a community solution - we have significant and well-documented pressures on our finances and would welcome any situation where communities can step forward and provide what the council can no longer afford.

“We had a constructive meeting last month and officers provided all readily available the information and guidance.

“We look forward to seeing the group’s business case.”