BAD MOVE: Ballina Swim and Gym lessee Peter Charlton is unhappy about the proposed changed to the DA at Ballina Fair shopping Centre.
BAD MOVE: Ballina Swim and Gym lessee Peter Charlton is unhappy about the proposed changed to the DA at Ballina Fair shopping Centre. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Pool closure outcry

THE boss of NSW's peak swimming organisation has called on Ballina Shire Council to "remain diligent" in preventing drownings, and has joined thousands of others who oppose the demolition of the town's only indoor pool.

More than 2300 people have signed a petition opposing the closure of the Ballina Swim 'n' Gym.

But council staff will this week recommend approval of an application for its demolition as part of a $1.8 million revamp of Ballina Fair.

If approved, Best & Less would move to the pool space as part of the renovations. A new mall would be created with speciality shops linking the cinemas to the shopping centre.

But there has been a pub- lic outcry over the plans to demolish the pool. As well as 2375 signatures on a petition, more than 100 written submissions have been lodged.

Swimming NSW's chief executive, Mark Heathcote, in a letter to the council, has urged councillors to "una- nimously reject" the demolition of the pool.

"The Ballina Swim 'n' Gym is used by a wide variety of community members from infants through to senior citizens and there is no doubt that the facility has provided an opportunity for thousands of people to learn the life skill of swimming," he said.

"With drowning rates continuing to increase across the country, organisations like Ballina Shire Council and Swimming NSW must remain diligent in providing facilities and resources for people to learn to swim all year around."

The council report acknowledges the closure of the Swim 'n' Gym "will have a considerable impact on the local community".

However the report also states that the shopping centre owners are "entitled to make a commercial decision relating to the commercial leases".

The matter will be debated by councillors at the Thursday meeting.



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