Protests as children face two-hour trip for swimming lessons after pool closure

By Tara O’Connor, local democracy reporter

A primary school teacher says closing Purley Pool for good will mean children face a round trip of up to two hours to visit the next closest leisure centre in Waddon.

It has been more than a year since Purley Leisure Centre closed its doors when the coronavirus pandemic hit, the only leisure centre in Croydon that has not opened at all during the last year.

This has led to concerns that it may close for good.

Campaigners, including some school children, gathered outside the leisure centre to protest against the closure of the facility.

The centre is used by children from St Aidans Primary School in Coulsdon who would instead face a long journey to the next closest leisure centre in Waddon.

This would involve catching two buses with journey times of around 40 minutes each way – compared to the 15 or 20 minute journey to Purley.

Campaigners are concerned that Purley Leisure Centre will not reopen. Credit: Save Purley Pool

Year 6 teacher, Collette Luke, said “Travelling with classes of primary school age children to Waddon Leisure Centre carries so many safeguarding issues; the 289 bus is a single-deck vehicle.

“Pupils would have to stand for most of the traffic congested journey to Purley Way and crossing the road at Fiveways Junction with a whole class is just too dangerous for us to consider.”

Now more than 2,500 people have signed a petition calling for Purley Leisure Centre to be reopened.

Richard Willmer and Rachel Thompson from Save Purley Pool said in a statement: “There is growing frustration at the lack of interest and engagement from Croydon Council despite their assurances they would work with the community regarding Purley Leisure Centre.”

A Freedom of Information request by the group shows that the council received a total of £924,000 from the National Leisure Recovery from Sport England.

The group thinks that some of this should go to Purley Leisure Centre.

But last month Croydon Council said that no decisions on the future of the facility have been made yet.

A spokesman said: “No final decision has yet been made on the long-term future of Purley Leisure Centre, and we will be in touch with local people about next steps in early summer.”

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