North Fingal Pool committee recently met with Fingal County Council CEO Anne-Marie Farrelly for an update on progress with delivering a swimming pool for North Fingal. A new pool development was announced to great fanfare in February 2019 when Fingal County Council announced plans to build the new amenity as part of the Castlelands masterplan. Following a wait of over 30 years and a massive outcry during public consultations for the Our Balbriggan plan where a clear demand was made by the people of Balbriggan that the No1 amenity they wish to see is a swimming pool.
Press extract from Feb 2019:
Paul Reid (Then FCC CEO) said: 'We have listened to the extraordinary response of the community who got involved and had their say.
'An idea which strongly emerged in the survey results was the desire of the people of Balbriggan to have a swimming pool.
'In response to this, provision is being made for a swimming pool in the Castlelands Masterplan.
'What we need to do next is to work through the most effective models to deliver and manage such a fabulous facility for the town.
'This is a really exciting time for the town of Balbriggan and Fingal County Council and its partners are committed to delivering on commitments given to the community.'
North Fingal Pool committee have worked very hard conducting surveys with local schools, business and more to illustrate the intense demand from the people of north Fingal to have a public swimming pool as an amenity. The committee has lobbied TDs, Councillors, Senators and other public representatives to deliver this key amenity. NFPC feel what was initially a strong positive response has now wained and FCC have just put us in a holding pattern.
At the meeting with Anne-Marie Farrelly we asked why has any mention of the provision of a Public Swimming Pool been dropped from current “Our Balbriggan” literature?
NFPC presented our work over the past twelve months and discussed the school survey results. That showed a clear need to provide a pool for the use of local schools to deliver swimming lessons locally rather than regularly shipping children across county for swimming lessons. The need to provide a public Swimming Pool for North Fingal has been long proved, now is the time to begin the process of delivering it.
We discussed some more details on funding options that are available and appropriate for an indoor swimming pool asking has any provision been made to begin allocating funds or seeking grants to start the process of delivering a pool.
NFPC also showed they were not solely married to the “Castlelands Solution” and wanted a clear Plan B as the Castlelands Masterplan is quite contentions and could face delays or not happen at all. We wanted to show we were not totally confined to this proposal and wanted to hear about alternatives.
The response from the FCC CEO and management was that The Castlelands Master Development Plan is still with the Land Development Agency (LDA ), and progress there has been very slow.
We pushed that we would like to see the swimming pool included in "Our Balbriggan" literature and media, but FCC said this was not the time to include as the Our Balbriggan was more of a trademark rather than a set of projects.
A very disappointing outcome to say the least.
Now we discover at the latest meeting of the full council that a proposal to transfer the €8.2M surplus identified into a fund for the purpose of municipal swimming pool facilities for Fingal (https://fb.watch/cVSykfKnDU/)
We later had some meeting with Swim Ireland to discuss the outcome of the FCC meeting and get an update on the National Strategy. They informed us that this was still ongoing and would be released later in 2022. Swim Ireland informed us about the program to bring pop-up pools to areas with no indoor pool facilities. The main objective of this is to provide formal swimming lessons to children who might otherwise not have the opportunity to access an indoor swimming pool. They said the next one was in Donabate/Portrane launching 9-May and then onto Wicklow. They also shared some of the campaigns they were aware of in other districts like Wicklow and Cork.
Follow Wicklow Campaign here https://westwicklowpool.ie/
NFPC asked if we could apply to get Balbriggan included in the schedule for a pop-up pool in 2022. They said they would support it in principle and would look into it after the Donabate launch.
We plan to go back to Swim Ireland next week to ask about the next steps in the process to officially apply for a slot in the schedule. We believe that will include an official application to FCC to get approval for the Balbriggan area, but that will all need to be confirmed.