At last the news is good for the pool. Ten years on from the last swim the Executive Committee of Ipswich Borough Council has decided to go ahead with restoration and management by an outside operator.
The strategy that persuaded the Committee and its officers is to let the entire site on a very long lease - at least fifty years - to an operator, Fusion Lifestyle. Fusion, spun out of the leisure department of the London Borough of Southwark, are a highly respected not-for-profit trust who run nearly fifty leisure outlets in the south of England including three open air pools, two of which are Listed and required similar regeneration.
Fusion will raise the capital necessary (£3.5m) for the re-opening from several sources including IBC who have budgeted £1m, the Heritage Lottery Fund who are extremely supportive, other grant funding bodies and raising some on the market, supported by the long lease and their reputation.
The work to be done will include repairs to failing concrete structures, the pool tank, the south grandstand and the north changing rooms. The clock tower will be reinstated, a fifty station health and fitness centre open all the year round to provide an income stream will be installed under the south grandstand and the car park will be enlarged and improved. The jury is out on the fate of the diving boards and it's unlikely that the pool will be heated.
It seems a long time since the Chairman sent me to sit on an IBC Scrutiny Committee on the future of this asset. The enthusiasm of its supporters led me to being the Chair of the Trust we set up and thus to the present position. Optimistically, and I have never wavered in my confidence, the pool should be open to the warm skies by 2015.