Swimming pool for Amble in caravan deal

AMBLE'S lack-lustre caravan site is to get a fresh lease of life and the town residents are to get a swimming pool.

Northumbrian Leisure, which already run the Riverside Caravan Park at Warkworth and Golden Sands at Cresswell where they are based, has taken over from Alnwick District Council as the lease-holders of the Amble site and intend to upgrade facilities in a deal worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Under the terms of the lease, Northumbrian Leisure has guaranteed to improve the site which was recently described in a Government Best Value Review as having fallen way behind the competition with not enough money having been invested in improving the facilities in past years.

The improvements will include upgrading of unserviced plots, the construction of an indoor swimming pool with public access near to the site and the refurbishment of the currently disused Granary Hotel, which has been vacant since 1997.

Nigel Thompson, Director of Northumbrian Leisure Ltd, said: "We are absolutely delighted at the prospect of improving the park. There's improvements to be done to the electrics and servicing of some of the pitches. At the minute the site needs a lot of work doing to it, it is about average, I have seen better, but I have seen a lot worse.

"Once the pool is up and running it will be great for the caravan park, but it will also be good for the locals in Amble and school children will not have far to travel for swimming lessons."

Coun Sue Bolam, Chairman of the District Council's Policy Committee, said that over the next two years Northumbrian Leisure will be making a significant investment to improve and enhance the site amenities and facilities.

She said: "The re-opening of the Granary Hotel combined with new leisure facilities and other planned improvements should provide a great boost to Amble and completely rejuvenate this part of the town."

Promotions Committee Chairman, Coun Hugh Philipson gave a warm welcome to the plans to build a swimming pool at the site. He said: "This is great news for Amble, the town has been crying out for new and improved sports facilities for many years and through this agreement the council has made with Northumbrian, Amble will be getting a new swimming pool within the next two years."

Margaret Bell, Chairman of the Amble Caravan Association who has had a caravan at the site for around 20 years, said: "It all seems fine to me, only time will tell I suppose, but up to now everybody seems to be alright about it. There is so much needs doing it is difficult to know where to start, but mainly its the electrics and roads, the basics, we're not really asking for anything else. We have been asking for something to be done for so long, I will believe it when I see it."

Northumbrian Leisure also plans to landscape the Lord Mayor's field to be used as an open space with public access and the potential for community recreational use.

Director of Services at Alnwick District Council, Bill Batey, said that over the next three months the council will be looking to finalise the agreement with Northumbrian Leisure and it is hoped the lease will be finalised by the end of December.

Caravan owners at the site have all been informed of the changes and invited to a meeting in the Caravan Association Hall at 10.30pm on September 23 to discuss the plans.