A POPULAR pool has been closed with immediate effect over fears that the ceiling tiles are in danger of falling and releasing asbestos.

The pool at Bulmershe Leisure Centre in Woodley was already due to close down on April 27 ahead of the demolition works for the new state-of-the-art facility.

However, concerns have been raised to the council that the tiles pose a threat to the public due to being moisture damaged, with asbestos recently discovered in the void above the tiles.

Existing plans to relocate the swimming groups and pool users to Carnival Pool and Loddon Valley Leisure Centre will now be pushed forward and the rest of the leisure centre will remain open until the demotion works commence.

Councillor Norman Jorgensen said: “We know that closing the pool will disappoint swimming groups and families, but we simply are not prepared to take the risk with the ceiling.

“We were already planning to relocate these groups when the centre closed for good, so are doing all we can to speed up those arrangements, and ask people to bear with us.

“This discovery about the pool ceiling only vindicates our decision to invest in a new leisure centre. It has served Woodley well for the past 50 years, but the community deserves and needs a modern centre with modern facilities.”

The centre was built in the 1970s and most of the building is beginning to show its age.

Councillors did consider replacing the pool ceiling for the remaining weeks before the full closure, but the cost was deemed to be 'unviable'.

The planning application for the new £14.5m leisure centre is due to be submitted at the end of March and demolition will start in May.

Subject to planning permission, it could include a six-lane 25m swimming pool and teaching pool, with movable floors for a larger number of groups of ages and abilities to use.

It is hoped the new leisure centre will be open towards the end of 2020, with a bigger gym, a four-court sports hall and a café.