FOLLOWING the news that Launceston’s leisure centre will have to close its doors in January 2023 as a viable solution to keep the facility open has not been found, members of the public came out in force to express their dissapointment.

A demonstration was held and a petition launched with many expressing how saddened by the news they were. Several said they could not afford to travel to other “nearby” facilities while others raised the impact on social isolation the closure would have.

The following are comments from local residents in response to the news:

• Julia Jeffery said: “Swimming is a life skill. The children in our rapidly growing town, which serves numerous surrounding villages, should not be having access to a swimming pool removed. The outcome of which will inevitably lead to a greater trend in years to come of children’s deaths from drowning. I would like to know how Cornwall Council propose to support the hundreds of children who will be impacted.

“As working parents, we will sadly no longer be able to take our son to weekly lessons or enjoy a family swim at the weekend. Swimming is something he’s good at, we are all upset and angry that such a short-sighted approach is being taken that denies a large community of a facility that promotes health and well-being.”

• Sarah Harris: “For me the leisure centre has been a lifeline, in terms of my physical and mental health. Over the last ten years I have gradually recovered from ME and regained health and strength. Taking classes, swimming and a gym program were a big part of this healing process. I am finding it hard to imagine losing this facility.

“Driving out of the area is a poor solution with many obvious drawbacks. Why has so much money been spent on resurfacing the car park and replanting the shrubs etc, just to close the most important part? It is the vulnerable who will suffer most, children who will not learn to swim, older people who will lose the essential health benefits and people on lower incomes who cannot afford to travel.”

• Cat Riona: “I don’t have the fond memories of Launceston Leisure Centre and learning to swim here, as others do. For my sins, and as I am frequently reminded, I’m “not from round here”!

“However, the leisure centre was a main attraction for settling here. I’m a British Army soldier, and I chose a reserve posting down this way as I finished my full-time military career. Having moved about throughout my life serving the country, I’m not really “from” anywhere, and the leisure centre was a reason that the town appealed to someone who could split army reservist hours perfectly between the Bodmin and Plymouth bases.

“Shutting the leisure centre affects my ability to train regularly, particularly in regards to passing my military annual swimming test - and thus makes me an ineffective, undeployable soldier. And going forwards, it’s probably obvious how shutting the only swimming pool for miles around will affect my ability to coach local triathletes.”

Cat added: “Furthermore, and I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but closures such as this have a detrimental affect on the populations health - and indeed military effectiveness! They not only affect individual larger pictures, but the bigger picture of the health of the NHS and our political vulnerability as a nation.”

• Joan Heaton said: “Our primary age children will not have a chance to learn to swim locally.  Schools might have to transport children to other towns as there is a statutory obligation to teach KS2 children to swim. This will be an added cost to schools and take pupils and staff away from school for longer travel periods. Our residents without transport will be unfairly disadvantaged as they will have great difficulty accessing out of town swimming pools. While Cornwall Council advises us to curb our travel mileage to respect climate change, they make it very difficult for us to follow their guidance.  While NHS Cornwall advises us to stay active to stay healthy, Launceston will miss out on one of the best means of exercise for elderly and disabled people - namely ‘swimming’.  We need to save our swimming pool in Launceston for everybody.”

• Darryn Lee said: “I learnt to swim in that pool and I’ve taught both my children to swim there. I also have  taught self defence in the sports hall for a number of years. I teach Police officers, victims of domestic violence, etc. This closure will really affect my group.”

• Demelza Sayers said: “My six-year-old son will no longer be able to have his swimming lessons every week. There is nowhere else close by. He is really saddened by the news, as am I.

“I was hoping my daughter would start lessons there next year too. It’s really devastating news for our community.”