Abingdon's open-air pool could stay open for longer in future, according to the council in charge of running it.

For the second year running, Abbey Meadow outdoor pool is opening in late in July and closing for the season in early September.

Bosses at the Vale of White Horse District Council say it is expensive to run, so it can't open for a longer period this year as they have to be careful with spending.

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But they have pledged to look at ways to keep the pool open for longer in future.

Many people in the town love the open-air pool and are disappointed it is not opening for longer, particularly when there is now some fine weather.

Herald Series: Abbey Meadow open-air poolThe open-air pool was saved from closure in 2006 by a campaign backed by Abingdon Town Council and Abingdon Herald.

Campaigners again fought to save the pool when it faced closure in 2015 and a petition with more than 2,200 names was handed to council leaders.

It reopened in 2018 following a £1.3million refurbishment.

Victoria Nickless, a spokeswoman for the Vale council, said: "Abbey Meadow outdoor pool opens for its most popular time of the year, the summer holidays.

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"This year the pool will be open from Saturday 20 July through to early September.

Herald Series: Abbey Meadow open-air pool"We’re proud that we can provide local residents with such a fantastic way to spend their summer holidays.

"It’s very expensive to run though, which is why we have to be careful about how long it’s open for.

"Across the country, many councils are facing such difficult financial situations that mean they’re unable to open their pools at all – thankfully, as we’ve been careful with our finances we’re not in that situation."

She added: "We’re continuing to look for ways we can reduce the costs of the running of the outdoor pool and are exploring options to have a longer season in the future, but it’s very important to be careful with our budget so we can continue to open this great attraction over the busiest months in the summer, while also supporting our vital services and most vulnerable residents."

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Vale councillor Oliver Forder, also a town councillor, said: "Everybody feels that the open-air pool is a great asset to the town and everybody would like to see it open for longer.

"The problem is that it is a very expensive asset because of the heating and the maintenance.

Herald Series: Abbey Meadow open-air pool"I would like to see the pool open longer full stop but it is a question of whether that is financially viable - at least is is open some of the time.

"Although I am disappointed it is not open for longer I feel positive about what we are trying to do.

"The Vale council is genuinely a council that is trying to keep assets open for public use."

It is understood that the GLL (Better) leisure group, which is running the pool for the Vale council, has a contract until 2026.

Town councillor Lorraine Oates said: "We fought to keep this pool open a long time ago.

"We would all like the pool to be open every time the sun shines, but that's not practical.

"The leisure provider has a contract with the Vale and we have to accept that."

Maintenance work will be needed before the leisure facility can reopen as the grass around the pool has been allowed to grow and looks a mess.

Ms Nickless added: "The council’s leisure provider GLL, alongside our leisure team, are working incredibly hard on the preparation for the pool and surrounding area. We are confident we will have the site ready for everyone to enjoy on July 20.”

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

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