CAMPAIGNERS fighting to stop Yiewsley Swimming Pool being turned into a health centre have been dealt a blow after Hillingdon Council dismissed claims an 80-year-old covenant could save it.
The council has spent three months consulting lawyers over the covenant, have now stated it will not stop their plans for the site in Otterfield Road, Yiewsley. Despite this their decision is being challenged and there are calls for a review.
The council is developing plans to build a health centre to lease back to Hillingdon PCT who do not have the capital to do so themselves.
After the pool closed last July, residents pinned their hopes on a 1934 covenant which bound the old Yiewsley and West Drayton Urban District Council to keep the land for community use.
But the council has now dismissed the covenant, claiming it is invalid as the land has changed hands, from the old Urban and District Council, to Hillingdon Council, when the council's were amalgamated in 1965.
Janet Woeginger, campaigner, claims it is in fact the council's argument which is invalid.
She said: "They say the covenant is not enforceable because the land changed hands, but it was never sold, it was simply transferred to them.
"The covenants quite clearly protect these parcels of land, as did the covenants attached to Yiewsley Recreation Ground that we understand was in danger of being flogged off to a supermarket developer a number of years ago.
"It seems that anything resembling a community asset in Yiewsley and West Drayton has no value, other than financial, to the council.
"Why are the people of Yiewsley and West Drayton not entitled to enjoy the area they live in? Why is the council not improving our leisure facilities as they are in other areas in the borough?"
Mrs Woeginger and the fellow campaigners have written to the council, challenging their assessment, and have requested a review.
The council closed the pool last year, which cost £32,000 a year to run, adding they were not prepared to spent a six-figure sum for refurbishment work.
This angered residents of Yiewsley and West Drayton, as the council had spent several millions of pounds on new swimming pools in Uxbridge and Hayes.
Bill Ogden, deputy director corporate landlord, said: "Following legal advice from a barrister the covenant only applies to the original owners of the site in 1922 and as the site has changed ownership since that time, the covenant is no longer valid."
The council are pushing ahead with plans for the health centre, which campaigners do not dispute is needed, but maintain it is on the wrong site.
Work is ongoing towards submitting a planning application as soon as July for the health centre.
Campaigners want the chance to re-open the pool and run it as a community trust, as part of the Government's Big Society vision.
Pool or health centre? What is your preference? E-mail email@example.com