This week I travelled to London, to the Department of Health and Social Care, to brief the Health Minister and special adviser about Gloucestershire health bosses’ completely misconceived plans for getting rid of Cheltenham’s A&E. More discussions are planned for later in the week and I will be meeting local stakeholders to help coordinate our strategy.
NHS Trust managers might think this is a done deal, hence their cynical attempt to carry out a snap engagement exercise in August, but they are wrong. Nearly 10,000 people have signed my petition opposing the plans. The fightback has begun.
Back in Cheltenham I visited the Lido to hear from staff (and swimmers!) about their concerns for the Lido’s future. I should declare an interest as a season ticket holder myself and someone who regularly takes part in the Christmas Day swim.
The charity, the Sandford Lido Trust, has nursed this hugely precious community asset back to financial health over the last two decades - after a long period when it looked like it might have to close.
The Trust has been trying to negotiate an extension to the current lease with the Council. That extension would allow the charity to access grant funding for improvements to changing rooms and other facilities. But Lido staff are seriously concerned by the bombshell demand for a share of the ticket and car park revenue in return for a new lease.
Such a requirement would hole the Lido’s finances below the waterline and put its viability at serious risk. Losing the Lido would be an absolute tragedy for Cheltenham, and for the people of all incomes and backgrounds who benefit from this community asset. For the sake of the whole town, the Lido’s future MUST be assured.
If you would like to learn more and show your support, the Trust has provided a dedicated email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.