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50 days to opening day!
Congratulations to KOPO and thanks to the Town Council. A Press Release from WODC officially announced the reprieve. The only thing new in it is the following quote- it looks as if a new approach has begun....

t has been agreed that the pool will re-open for the season on Thursday 8 April, in time for Easter and most of the school holiday. Pre-opening sales of season tickets will be at The Bookshop",

In the WODC Cabinet Minutes of their meeting on 11th February it is simply recorded that 13,500 was forthcoming from interested parties. There is no minute of any undertaking by WODC to provide financial information. Let's hope this was properly covered in correspondence because it was a specific condition of the Town Council's contribution.


At a meeting with WODC on Feb 5th KOPO delivered the balance of the ransom money. They undertook to contribute 7,500 to keep the pool open for another year. It is not known whether the loot was delivered in swag bags and wearing dark glasses. Together with 6,000 already committed by the Town Council this reaches the total demanded by WODC. Hopefully the District Council will keep their side of the bargain and open up the books so that KOPO can prepare a marketing plan for the long-term future of the pool. This is only a reprieve and a lot of hard work is still ahead!

Please e-mail the Chairman of KOPO Ken Norman with your pledges of support by simply clicking on this link


The Town Council decided on Monday night to pay their part of the ransom demanded by the West Oxfordshire District Council to keep the Pool open. Out of the total ransom money of 13,500 the Town would pay 6,000 and the KOPO (Keep Our Pool Open) campaign would come up with the rest. KOPO are already well ahead with their fund raising and are confident about reaching the total.

Since the whole point of the exercise is to give KOPO a year to come up with a long-term marketing plan, the Council thought it was only reasonable to make it clear that their offer was dependent on the District and Wycombe Leisure opening up the books so that a proper financial assessment could be made. If the District won't buy that proposal then there was a strong feeling that this must mean that there are things lurking in the (confidential) figures which would seriously compromise the future viability of the pool. If this is the case there isn't much point in throwing away money for a year. Best get things over now.

Its difficult to see how WODC can reasonably refuse. Nobody could think of any other example of where you would even think of putting up half the money to keep an enterprise open without being given a clear idea of current contracts and finances. The WODC have surprised us all before so nothing is certain. However there was a very real sense that the Town Council had now reached its sticking point. The ball is back with you Witney! Meanwhile we must make absolutely sure we have the ransom money safely in the bank!
More information on the POOL PAGE

Please e-mail the Chairman of KOPO Ken Norman with your pledges of support by simply clicking on this link

Ken Norman, Chair of KOPO says
in a statement on Jan 9th

The town's Open Air Swimming Pool it seems is saved for one more year and providing we can quickly raise funds will reopen in 2004. At last KOPO, in league with the Town Council, can get down to business - securing the pool's long term future. We've got just 50 weeks. It's a tall order but we'll rise to the challenge. We need to mobilise in a number of ways:

- Fundraising - securing donations, interest free loans, commercial sponsorship (we'll give recognition to sponsors at the pool and in our literature), grant funding and the like
- Appeals for services, equipment, labour etc. (watch out for our wish list)
- Meeting with WODC and Wycombe Leisure to discuss the running of the pool this season and setting a service level agreement.
- Risk assessment and maintenance schedule
- Engaging with interested parties and with them exploring ways of fulfilling the potential for the site.
- Putting together robust business plans and applying for available grant funding.

In February we are holding two evening events aimed at engaging and enthusing people about the way forward for this cherished resource. The venue has yet to be confirmed but the dates are as follows:

10 February
will be to hear what potential USERS of the site have to say.
11 February will be an evening for anyone who wants to help in any way, here they can learn about the campaign and what they can do to help.

Even as I write this e-mails of support are flying in and I've just heard that we've banked our first 1,000 donation to the cause. I'm swelling with pride - I just love this town and the can-do attitude of many people here about.


Having announced last week that the Cabinet were to meet on Jan 7th to consider a "secret" report recommending closure of the Open Air Pool, the council have now reconsidered and have decided to publish the main report and just one appendix. READ THEM HERE REPORT and APPENDIX2
We owe thanks for this new "openness" to the pressure last week from Conservative Councillor Mike Howes (Chipping Norton) and Liberal Democrat Councillor Gareth Epps (Freeland). Still missing are the revenue figures - so we still have no idea whether KOPO's main problem about how season ticket income has been counted is answered or not. Astonishing is the suggestion that the Town Council's offer to buy 6000 worth of season tickets does not help the financial situation at all. This is rubbish! Why don't the Council have a simple contract re-negotiation with Wycombe Leisure to reduce their fee The other rather unsavoury new thing in this report is the clear implication that the Voluntary Fire Service Trust (freeholders of the land) are in some way being difficult and asking for more money. After a long discussion with the Chairman of the Trust (Town Councillor John Grantham) your Editor can assure you that this is rubbish too. John has offered to publish his latest proposal letter to the WODC here. What the report does make clear is that the Town Council are now being given one last chance to come up with the readies (ie 13,500). But this raises a whole lot of other questions about how on earth the Town Council can commit Parish Funds without any reliable financial information or any share in control of the management of the Pool


By chance on New Years Eve your editor noticed that the last item on the agenda for a 7th Jan WODC Cabinet Meeting (published on their website on Dec 29th) was to consider a report concerning Chipping Norton Swimming Pool. The agenda quoted the recommendation in a report which was :

"That, in view of the Councils current financial position and the need to add to the Capital Programme if the Pool remains open, the Cabinet agrees to close the Chipping Norton Outdoor Pool with immediate effect."

Read your Editor's correspondence with the WODC when he asked to see the report

This all came as a complete surprise since everyone in Chippy had been advised that - following proposals just before Christmas from KOPO and the Town Council - this matter was to be decided on Jan 21st. So what was now going on in the middle of the holiday season How could anyone possibly make an input without seeing the report Had the KOPO proposal and the Town Council's offer been taken into consideration or not What figures were being used

We published these facts plus an angry commentary on this website and e-mails started flying.

It now seems all is not yet completely lost (cross your fingers). The Leader of the Council (right) has said "I sincerely hope a way forward may yet be found". From other sources it seems as if the District Council - having asked the Town for 13,500 - doesn't think much of the Town Council's offer to buy 6,000 worth of season tickets for Chippy teenagers as a way of boosting pool revenue. So the District has brought forward the report as a way of forcing a further negotiation. These things (supposedly) have to be settled by mid-January when the Parish Council Tax precepts are finalised (ie if Chippy is going to be forced to cough up more money via a special surcharge on Chippy Residents that has to be agreed very soon). So expect the minutes of the Jan 7th meeting to say something like......The Cabinet agreed that the Pool should be closed unless Chipping Norton Town Council make a contribution of 13,500 for two years (The Town does not have sufficient cash reserves to do this so there would have to be a local precept of around 6 per household added to each Chippy Council Tax bill). This is all a Local Government version of "Call my Bluff".

If the buck (and the potential blame for closure) is indeed to be passed back to the Town Council like this then the Town Councillors will need to consider the following issues:

Have the District have given due weight to KOPO's superb report which clearly demonstrates that a properly managed Pool has fantastic potential. The case seems unanswerable.

Is it true that season tickets were sold which were valid for the Leisure Centre and the Open Air Pool, and that no check was kept on how often these were used at the Pool and that all the income was credited to the Leisure Centre If so how can anyone accurately work out the real costs and "profitability" of the Pool
KOPO do not believe the Pool made a loss last year and have challenged the District Council figures. What figures are now being used Who from the town will endorse them Why can't we see the report (Is this all just a variation of creative "transfer pricing" which is a well-established commercial accounting technique for deflating the profitability of parts of a business - either for tax reasons or because somebody wants to close them down)

There is absolutely no mandate from the town for such a local levy (in a recent poll on this site only 13% of people supported this option). There is a strong feeling in the Town that they paid for the Pool (by public subscription) in the first place and already pay for its upkeep via the Council Tax.

50% of the Pool visitors come from outside the town. Why haven't the District been looking for a contribution from Charlbury, Enstone, Hook Norton etc Parish Councils

Have the District fully explored all other possible funding sources Sport England Leader Plus Business Sponsorship

A direct contribution from the town would be a subsidy of a contract which has already (and apparently irrevocably) been negotiated between the District and Wycombe Leisure. The town is allowed no knowledge of the terms of this contract or information about the contractor's performance. It cannot even see the WODC officer's report. The contractor's performance has been strongly and publicly criticised by an important Chippy group (KOPO). In these circumstances (with no information and no say in the management of the Pool) and with all these questions it would be a bit foolhardy to sanction the use of Parish funds as a subsidy - would it even be legal

Is this "joint funding (ie District plus Parish funds)" the way local government finance is supposed to work "Joint Funding" must surely mean "Joint Control" - but this doesn't seem to be on offer. Or is it actually a way of getting some District costs off their balance sheet and out of consideration in Central Government calculations about the District's performance. What will Parishes be charged for next Where does it end What precedents are there for this What other West Oxfordshire Parishes have made direct contributions to maintain local services Or this the thin edge of very big new wedge (Watch out Burford - that attendant in your public loo may soon cost you!)

Currently the WODC-controlled Cogges museum is operating at an operating deficit of over 200,000. How does the District Council justify this enormous continuing loss when compared with the marginal cost saving achieved by the closure of a much-valued town amenity like the Open Air Pool

Ken Norman, Chair of KOPO says
"This is a disappointing turn of events but not entirely unexpected. After all the hard workthe fifteen strong KOPO team has put into publicising the pool, increasing usage and improving the finances of the pool the recommendation, based purely on finances, is a kick in the teeth. We produced a comprehensive report highlighting theeconomic, health, educational, community and other benefits that the pool brings to the town and its people. The output ofour reportwas endorsed by WODCs own commissionedreport. WODCwaved at us management information that suggestedwe hadmade littleimpact and that the pool's good fortunes this summerwere due to the good weather.But those figures wereflawed, inaccurate and didn't account for income diverted through season ticket sales, to the leisure centre. What the figures did show, however, is that the pool could be better managed and was very close to break-even this year.
And that's why we want a reprieve so that we can get behind the figures, fund-raise andplan for a self-sustaining facility that needn't bea continuing drain on resources.
"I'd like to thank the many businesses andindividuals that have freelygiven their time and resources to help the campaign thus far. Thanks also to the Town Council for their offer to buy summer-term season tickets for the teenagers of the town. We really do appreciate it and are onlysorry thatour combinedefforts don't seem to be acknowledged by WODC or recognised for what it represents - the insistence of this community that the pool remains open.
"But the fight isn't yet over (why do these things have to become a fight)The Cabinet has yet to make their decision (one thatit mustappreciate will be irreversible - if the pool doesn't reopen this year it is lost forever) and we can only hope that fromsomewhere within WODCcommon-sense is ultimately allowed to prevail. I would point them totheir own press release of December last year, "During the season an assessment of the usage of the pool will be carried out. The impact of the new leisure centre ..with an indoor swimming pool will be taken into account. Councillor Tony Walker ..said it is important that any decision taken affecting the future operation of the Chipping Norton Swimming Pool is based on actual figures'.Yet what assessment was made Well the report they commissioned concluded: With improved marketing, a review of charges, and the prospect of global warming leading to better summers, the pool has the potential to act as a tourist attraction for the town and to continue its function as a valued facility for residents, especially for young people. What impact made by the Leisure Centre None, in terms of usage, but a diversion of income away from the outdoor pool. As for the 'actual' usage figures presented by Wycombe Leisuretheseappear grossly understated and if believed 4.85 was generated each time the pool was used. Given the maximum entrance fee is 2.85 the usage figures to generate 44,000 income would be nearer 18,000.
"Closing the pool means
  • ignoring the strength of feelingshown bya large proportion of the people of the town and surrounding villages
  • ignoring the benefits that will be lost
  • dismissing the work of KOPO
  • dismissing the Town Council's offer
  • passing upan opportunity to work with the community it represents tocreate a community centrethat can be enjoyed all year round by a wider range of people
  • losing one of Britain's70 remaining open-air pools
  • saving 27,000 against reserves of 60,000,000.

What madness. People have to get angry, jump out of aeroplanes and give up hours and hours of their precious spare time campaigning (when they should be relaxing) in order to ensure councillors see common sense. Let's just hope that they do.


We HAVE to make a fuss - and fast!.
Write a protest e-mail today to one of the Chippy District Councillors

or to the Leader of the Council

After a summer of petitioning in a brilliant campaign by KOPO it looks as if the end game has arrived. The WODC visited the town last month and had their final consultations and - predictably - now its all down to money. The WODC reckon it costs them 27,000 in operating costs to keep the pool open. They acknowledge that half the users come from outside town so Chippy is being asked to pay 13,000 a year towards the operating costs to keep the pool open for two years while KOPO and the WODC work out a viable long-term business plan (which will have to find a way of making some hefty maintenance investment as well as covering the operating costs). The Town Council hasn't got this kind of money. Would every household in the town be prepared to pay a 5 special surcharge on their Council Tax bill for the next two years to cover the amount and keep the Pool open That might be the simplest solution. Do we mount a massive fund-raising campaign Do we try for a deal and offer WODC half of what they are asking Or do we risk everything by digging our heels in, calling the WODC'S bluff and saying something like...."We know you're short of money but you owe us this. We don't have any other facilities for young people in this place. In any case, you shouldn't go selling off long-term assets (which incidentally we paid for) to balance short-term budget shortfalls. You could manage your own cash investments better (see below). And we're not convinced that the pool or the contract have been managed well over recent years. (By the way we notice in some recent WODC minutes.... "Currently the Cogges museum is operating at an operating deficit of over 200,000 compared to a deficit of around 110,000 when the district council took over the running of the museum from the county council 5 years ago"). You give 28,000 a year to the Chipping Norton Theatre (and nobody argues about that) and only last month you gave 9,000 to Hanborough towards their Skateboard Park. You spent a fortune on re-vamping our Market Square which nobody was demanding. Keeping the Pool open is something that everyone is demanding. You owe us this much. You should pay for it."

UPDATE: The Town Council decided on Monday that it should make a gesture of solidarity with KOPO to demonstrate to the District that the whole town is behind this campaign. 6,000 is the limit - but not as a straight cash contribution. The town will offer to buy holiday season tickets next year and give them free to Chippy kids. That way the income of the pool will be boosted. Good scheme - lets see if Witney buy it! If they don't - its back to the barricades.



Teenagers in West Oxfordshire will be able to go swimming for free next summer. The outdoor pool in Chipping Norton has been given 6,000 by the town council to run the scheme. The grant is designed to show the authority's support for the campaign to keep the facility open.


The campaign began in earnest on the Town Hall Steps on 19th July. Led by the new committee (pictured left). David Dew, Clare Jarvis and Graham Gage (chair). Balloons, leaflets and a fast-growing petition were just the beginning. Later at the Pool Jo Graves threw off her mayoral robes and dived into the pool (below) after she had initiated the "8 weeks and counting" campaign by crossing out the first of the eight large panels representing the remaining weeks of the season which now adorn the poolside. A CAMPAIGN WEBSITE WILL BE ONLINE SOON!

The Mayor - in at the Deep End!

Use it or lose it

We have a fine open air pool in Chipping Norton. It is still open! You can find it at the top of Fox Close off Albion Street

Our open air pool was first ready for use in 1970. The money to create it was raised over many years by the people in our town. The land was acquired through the generosity of the Chipping Norton Fire Brigade Charity - which bought land for the Cricket, Football and Tennis Clubs. It was the tennis club land which later [with some additional land from the school] became the open air pool.. At the time the cost was only 25,000!

The pool is very much part of Chipping Norton's heritage, but has also proved very popular with people from the surrounding villages. It is a wonderful place to take your family on a fine day It is open from April to September and with its paddling pool for small children, its grassy lawns, its caf and especially its very warm water it is ideal for keen swimmers all through the season. And it is one of the best facilities in the town for the young of both sexes

Now it is faced with possible closure in 2004 because it is subsidised by the District Council and because the maintenance of the equipment - changing rooms, boilers, filters etc has been skimped and now need to be renewed or upgraded. A petition was started during the 2002 season and over 500 signatures were collected together with many enthusiastic comments.

The best way to keep the pool open is to use it. If you haven't been - try it. Look out for posters with details of how to join the campaign to save the pool

Peter Barbour