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Councillors question cost of Castlebar pool pass

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VALUE FOR MONEY?  A number of people on social media have this week being questioning the pricing structure at the new Lough Lannagh Swimming and Fitness Complex.  Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Edwin McGreal

Local councillors have criticised the rates for the new swimming pool in Castlebar.
The €12 million pool officially opened on Friday last but the pricing structure came in for widespread criticism at yesterday’s (Monday) monthly meeting of Castlebar Municipal District.
Many councillors were critical of the fact that it costs €10 for single use of the pool. While this also includes use of the gym, councillors argued there should be a cheaper rate to use the pool alone, for those who do not wish to use the gym at the facility.
Cllr Martin McLoughlin praised the delivery of the project by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny but criticised the €10 price, saying the old swimming pool costed just €4.50 for single use of the pool.
“The council need to separate out the gym and the pool for pricing,” he said, adding that it was much cheaper to go to Westport and use pools there.
“The new pool is in danger of becoming an expensive white elephant,” he said in a statement prior to the meeting. “It is pricing itself out of the very market it is aimed at. Individuals and families with young children will simply refuse to pay such an exorbitant charge, and if necessary will simply make the ten- minute trip to Westport to get better value,” he said.
Cllr Michael Kilcoyne (Ind) said he wanted a report on how many staff at the new hotel are council staff and how many are employed by other contractors. He said the facility is ‘first class’ but said the rates were too expensive for a facility funded by the taxpayer.
Cllr Cyril Burke (FG) argued if people felt this pool was expensive, how expensive would a proposed 50-metre pool have been? He praised Sinn Féin’s Cllr Therese Ruane for casting the deciding vote in the old Castlebar Town Council. However he said prices needed to be looked at.
Cllr Al McDonnell (FF) said the prices are ‘prohibitive’ and need to be examined. He praised Therese Ruane for voting for the 25 metre pool.
Cllr Henry Kenny (FG) said a ‘swim only’ option should be available and that prices needed to be ‘more reasonable’. He added this argument was, to him, proof the town could not afford the running costs of a 50 metre pool.

Fantastic facility
Padraig Philbin, Head of Tourism with Mayo County Council, said he was thrilled the ‘fantastic facility’ is now open. He said the new pool is ‘on another level’ from the old pool. He said the councillors had decided the pool would be an eight lane, 25 metre pool instead of a six-lane alternative. He said this was a ‘fantastic’ addition and means the pool can host galas, running costs are higher and more lifeguards are required for the pool to comply with regulations.
He said the council examined similar pools around the country and pricing models and said their pricing structure is in line with Mayo County Council’s only other pool, Westport Leisure Park, even though, Mr Philbin added, that is a smaller pool.
He urged people to visit the pool and judge for themselves. He said there is an option for a multi-visit swim and spa ticket for €70 for ten visits. He added the council will look at reviewing family pricing.