Save Ashton’s ‘life-changing’ pool say angry users

TAKE away Ashton-under-Lyne’s swimming pool and you are taking away more than just water. You are taking away a community hub, a place people can feel safe, integrate and make themselves feel better.

That is the warning those being most affected by the proposal to shut it in September have sounded.

Active Ashton, as it is known, is one of three centres being closed by Active Tameside because of a cash crisis.

“It’s more than just a swimming pool” – The Correspondent met with some of the service users at Ashton leisure recently

The Correspondent detailed money problems it owned up to before making the decision to close Ashton, Active Etherow and Adventure Longdendale.

It also told how the town’s MP, Angela Rayner, feels it will have to be knocked down and completely replaced rather than renovated.

Now the people campaigning to save the facility from closure, those who use it every day, have spoken of the effect not being able to use it and having to move elsewhere in the borough will have.

Kerry spoke passionately about her reasons for using Ashton baths daily

With several people getting out of the pool and emerging into the outdoors with water still dripping from them, they told The Correspondent the damage it will cause.

Zafar Hussain said: “It’s like a family here, it’s a big loss to us. Everybody looks after everybody. We feel safe and secure. Not everybody has a car, so they can’t get up to the other centres.”

75-year-old Mohammed Saddique added: “I don’t have a car but I come every day as it makes me feel better. I use the gym, sauna, steam and swimming.

“I’m really upset, a lot of people are. If it closes, we’re going to be hanging in front of the town hall.”

Jade Jackson (centre) is in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. Active Ashton has played a huge role in that journey

Jade Jackson, who lives in Hattersley, spoke of the role Active Ashton has played in her personal life.

She said: “I’m in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse, I’m two years sober.

“I only come here and it’s like a community, I feel safe and secure. It’s more than just fitness, t’s different this centre. It’s a hub.”

Tony Cummings, who goes every day, said: “I’m devastated. It helps everybody with their mental health.

“Where are all the people going to go? I wouldn’t have thought it would take that much money to put this right, yet they (Tameside Council) want to spend it on the bus station and the market?”

Signing the petition

Tameside Council, which owns the building and lets Active Tameside manage it, secured £20 million for Ashton from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

However, as many people question this decision, that money cannot be used on Active Ashton, it must be spent on what it was earmarked for in its application.

Other outraged users raised different points about the value of the pool.

One lady called Kerry said: “Special needs children have learned how to swim here. The teachers here have so much patience for the kids and without it, these kids are never going to get life skills.

The Correspondent chatting to Active Ashton users

“They had the money for it, where’s the money gone? There’s plenty of land elsewhere too.

“What’s the point of doing a tram service and bringing everything in, if they’re going to take this away?

“They want to put a fountain on Ashton Market. We’ll have to go and swim in the fountain.

“Kids’ deaths will go up because of this. It has a knock-on effect – the Government wants us to be healthy.”

Cecilia added: “As an immigrant, immigrants can be afraid to go to places in a town like this. I’ve been coming here for years. This gym helped me to belong.

Cecilia is an immigrant who accessed Active Ashton to integrate into the community

“When I was ill recently, the only things that gave me relief were the yoga class, the sauna and the swimming.

“I will fight for this.”

Kirk told The Correspondent: “I come for my mental health four times a week. I won’t come if they close this. I’m limited about where I can go. I feel safe here.”

Others added: “Its like a community here rather than just a pool. We’ve got lifelong friends here. We met each other, we go out for lunch together.

“I know ladies who have been bereaved. They’ve come in really depressed and I’ve seen them lose weight and gain confidence. I’s wonderful to see what’s it’s done for people.

We met with Active Ashton users devastated by the pending closure

“These people will end up at the doctor’s or the hospital if they lose this.

“I’m not being dramatic when I say it’s literally saved my life. I was in a very deep depression and started coming here 12 years ago, lost weight and got my confidence and went on. That’s what it does for people.

“The average age for the clubs here is over 50 and some women are in their 70s or 80s. They say it’s when they stop coming that their arthritis comes back – where are these ladies going to go?

“I rely on the pool to keep my mental health straight. Everybody’s affected by it in one way or another. The classes are packed, they just don’t understand.”

Former Ashton Green Party councillor Lee Huntbach knows what Active Ashton can bring after being referred there himself.

He also believes Tameside Council, which said it could not provide the funds Active Tameside wanted to maintain its level of service, has missed a trick in not exploring renewable energy sources.

He said: “The pools provide gentle, non-impact exercise to help with medical conditions affecting my fitness and also my joints.

“I’m lucky that I have the option to drive to Copley or Denton but many Ashton residents simply don’t have that choice.

“This facility has provided Tameside’s most deprived ward with swimming facilities right in the heart of their community.

“I understand that gas and oil heating costs have escalated but that makes it all the more frustrating that sustainable alternatives using renewables haven’t been explored.

“This council belatedly declared a climate emergency in February 2020 but apart from transitioning to LED streetlights and planting a few trees, the follow up action has been woeful.

“Skyrocketing fossil fuel prices and Tory funding cuts are legitimate reasons for strains on council budgets but this one consistently fails to find alternative solutions where others have.”

You can sign the petition online:

10 Replies to “Save Ashton’s ‘life-changing’ pool say angry users”

  1. Absolutely disgraceful closing this pool, I have friends who are Aquafit and Zumba instructors who deliver classes at the pool which many people attend and make friends as well as gain confidence and have fun together. Where are their classes going to move to? I am mainly a member at Denton as it is close to me but I’ve recently started Aquafit . I’m fortunate that I can drive but many cannot.

  2. Well yet another mistake by the council, they can put money into a fancy bus station and dull grey market , although can’t even keep a basic central community pool which is a clear asset to people’s physical and mental well being, it’s bad enough there are no beautiful flowers in baskets anymore in the town to brighten people’s mood, now we can’t even lift our mood with fitness , it’s a disgrace , I mean what is the local council trying to do make all the residents of Ashton u Lyne and surrounding area leave and live else where , as that’s the message I get !

  3. I have been coming to Ashton pool for a long time they closed Dukinfield Pool because they ignored maintaining the boiler room they can’t blame the recent covid or enge egg issues for that.

    Get rid of some councillors as we are over run with them we would have enough money then to help fund the Ashton refurb.

    I will miss my swimming family and will have no other option but to give my membership up like many others.

  4. I cannot believe that Tameside Council would close the three centres down in favour of spending millions on a market that we don’t need it’s full of empty stalls just do away with the market altogether get rid of it stop wasting money on useless ideas and start by spending money on the swimming baths and other amenities pull your socks up do the right thing KEEP THE SWIMMING POOLS OPEN

  5. I think it is important that Tameside cummunity is informed where the 20m levelling up monies received from government is/has been spent. The closure of Ashton Baths will have a devestating impact on the healthy and social benefits of the community. It will also have a financial impact on Ashton Town Centre. Ashton Council need to be accountable.

  6. So proud of the people that turn up on saturdays to protest about the closure of ashton baths you the people that use this facility own it not the dictatorial council

  7. They spent millions on a bus station and they are going to spend more millions on another useless market? They spent millions on a grade two listed Library only to abandon that to build a new one. Where are the millions for the Active Leisure Baths? They let the threate and Town Hall go into ruins before they spend millions again?

  8. Surely with mental health workers encouraging individuals to look at going swimming and getting some exercise as we know this is a definite support to recovery this should be reconsidered. I am sure they could find other ways to find the funds required. This is definitely not ok!!

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