PROTESTERS staged a swim-in to show their anger at proposed swimming pool closures.
Last year it was announced that Newcastle City Pool will be shut down as part of a drive for a council to save £90m from its budget for 2013 to 2016.
The move by Newcastle City Council has sparked outrage among swimmers and families alike, many of whom have used the pool for years.
On Saturday protesters fighting against the closure took part in a “swim-in” at the City Pool to highlight their anger at the cuts.
People all ages filled the pool to its maximum capacity of 156 swimmers in order to demonstrate the importance of the popular service.
Grandmother-of-two Margaret Jones, 64, of Heaton, Newcastle, has used the swimming pool every week for the last 40 years.
The retired environmental health worker said: “I don’t know what I’ll do if the pool closes. It is devastating to think that it will shut.
“I use the pool every week and it has become a part of my life.
“I really enjoy using the facility as it’s good for my health and it’s also great socially.
“It is so important that people campaign against the closure to highlight the importance of the facility.
“It will be very sad if the pool closes and it will affect a lot of people.”
More than 171,00 people used the pool in 2011/12 and many believe the repercussions of the closure will be felt across the whole community.
As well as swimmers, spectators carrying banners filled the public gallery at the protest.
Deborah Bower, 30, attended the “swim-in” with her 20-month-old son, Oscar.
The artist, of Newcastle City Centre, said: “I use the swimming pool about once a fortnight. It’s really convenient to use before or after work or during my lunch break.
“It’s very sad to see that the North is being badly hit by central Government cuts, with important services in the community being affected.”
As well as providing a wide range of facilities and services, Newcastle City Pool is home to the Newcastle Amateur Swimming Club, which has more than 200 members.
Becki Copley, 33, of Newburn, Newcastle, is a member of the swimming club with her daughter Beth, 12.
The mum-of-four said: “The closure of the City Pool would be a huge blow to the swimming club and all the kids are massively upset and worried about the future.”
Newcastle City Council’s budget plans are currently going through consultation.
With a 25m pool and spectator gallery, the historic building also houses a Turkish bath – one of the 11 remaining marble Victorian Turkish Baths in England – and the pool is regularly used for baptisms, Aqua Zumba, and by schools.