THE transformation of Dursley Swimming Pool into a fully fledged leisure centre has been given the green light, despite the Conservative Party’s attempts to derail the project.

At Stroud District Council’s budget meeting held at Ebley Mill on Thursday, January 23, councillors approved spending plans for the year ahead, including injecting £1.4million into building a new wing at the pool on Castle Street.

The plans include building new gym facilities and a dance studio, which will allow for a comprehensive range of sport and fitness activities throughout the week.

At the meeting, Cllr Geoff Wheeler, leader of Stroud District Council and Dursley representative, said the investment would provide a return on the money spent and the pay back to society as a whole would be “huge”.

“I think we should make sure our facilities can provide the health and well-being of the public as a whole,” he said.

He added that aside from the successful swimming programme, there was a huge demand for activities such as exercise, dance classes and a gym.

“Currently we can only provide these activities in the evenings and at weekends, at another site nearby, but this investment will allow us to provide a comprehensive range of activities throughout the daytime.”

In addition to new facilities, the pool is expected to receive funds to go towards new combined heat and power engines, which will help save energy and money.

Theresa Miles, who moved to Everlands in Cam from Thornbury two years ago, said it was excellent news.

“I found I needed to travel back to Thornbury Leisure Centre at least three times a week as Dursley and Cam were unable to offer me a adequate well-equipped size gym to use between 8am and 5pm at a reasonable price,” she said.

“ I am retired as is the case for many many people that live here who I am sure will appreciate the plan for a decent well equipped size gym, opening during daytime hours.”

But Cllr Dorcas Binns (Con, Minchinhampton) was one of many Conservative councillors who spoke out at the spending plan, incredulous that while £1.4million was being spent in Dursley, only £50,000 had been put aside for helping people affected by the recession across the district.

“I am not being cynical but I am sure it has got nothing to do with the fact that Cllr Wheeler is a representative for Cam and Dursley,” she said.

She also questioned whether the money would be better spent elsewhere, as only three and a half full-time jobs are expected to be created from the new facilities or, as she pointed out, £400,000 per job.

Conservative leader Cllr Keith Pearson said he was fully supportive of increasing the council’s assets, but described the investment at Dursley Pool as inappropriate.

He added that he had supported the pool three years ago by stopping it from being put out to tender, while Stratford Park Leisure Centre in Stroud was.

“We are told all the time how people are suffering and we have put £50k into it,” he said.

“It is very admirable to spend £1.4 million there but it is inappropriate seeing it spent in one area.”

The motion was voted through by the rainbow alliance of Labour, Lib Dems and Green parties, with the Conservative party abstaining.