A new pool for east Reading will be ready before 2023, a councillor has pledged.

Councillors debated a petition last week on consulting the people of Reading about what to do with the closed Arthur Hill pool and were given an update on pool plans at Palmer Park.

Labour councillor Tony Jones said at the Full Council meeting: “I promise people there will be a new community pool in Palmer Park as soon as we can make that happen and that will be before 2023.”

Plans for Arthur Hill to become key worker housing will move forward after the council again refused to halt them to carry out a consultation.

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The council’s Policy committee had already decided to move forward with its plans for affordable housing at the Arthur Hill site without consultation.

Councillor Jason Brock, leader of Reading Borough Council (RBC) reiterated the position at the Full Council meeting on Monday, November 4.

He said the council cannot justify the cost of re-opening the pool and “residents deserve a pool fit for the 21st century”.

Campaigner Peter Burt said he meets former swimmers from Arthur Hill every week whose health is visibly deteriorating since its closure.

Lib Dem Councillor Meri O’Connell added: “People are travelling out of the area. They are taking their money and spending it in other areas who have got a bit of ambition when it comes to leisure facilities.

“There is no ambition in the current plans and I can see why people in east Reading are not content with the offer that is getting ever further into the distance.”

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Conservative councillor Simon Robinson said a replacement pool in Palmer Park has been discussed since as far back as 1990 and the council should have kept Arthur Hill open until a new pool is delivered.

Green, Lib Dem and Tory councillors urged the controlling Labour group to re-open the pool but Cllr Jones said the idea of re-opening it is a “dishonest proposition” as it is “not now possible”.

He added: “I absolutely regret the fact the Arthur Hill pool was closed and that a new pool had not been provided before it was closed.

The Redlands councillor said his family were occasional visitors and “didn’t like the pool very much”, preferring to walk to Central Pool but the pool “was a much-loved public facility by a number of people with specialist interests”.

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The Arthur Hill pool was closed in 2016 after falling into disrepair, while Central Pool closed in 2018.

RBC has pledged to spend £30 million on two new pools, at Palmer Park and Rivermead.

The council had hoped to announce a new leisure provider in September which could have made an early 2021 opening possible but an agreement has not yet been reached.