TWO Stevenston councillors have slammed the council’s decision to close Harvies pool, claiming it was always a “done deal”.

Councillors John Sweeney and Jimmy Miller have been left furious after North Ayrshire Councillors voted to approve plans to close the swimming pool at Auchenharvie and open a brand new facility within the new Ardrossan Campus at North Shore.

In a joint statement, the two Labour councillors fumed that the Harvies pool had been “neglected” by NAC administrations for years.

The councillors said: “From day one we have been clear we support a much-needed replacement for Ardrossan Academy but not at the expense of the swimming pool at Harvies.

“Harvies has been neglected for years by political administrations of all colours and it’s that neglect which has placed us in this position today.

“From the moment officers proposed the pool be relocated to the Ardrossan campus we feared this was going to happen and it now has. The fact the Scottish Government funding announcement came before consideration of the pool consultation sticks in our craw. Their decision was based on the original submission made to them by Council officers agreed as the first phase of engagement, which included the pool, and we feel that made the decision at full council a done deal.

“The people of Stevenston were clear in their support for the retention of Harvies pool and we are elected to represent their views. We stood firm and represented their views in the Council chamber and made the argument for investment to upgrade Harvies pool whilst supporting a new Ardrossan campus without a pool. We may have lost the vote but we fought the fight, stood up for our constituents and gave a voice to the people of Stevenston and we will continue to do so.

“The decision is still raw and it’s hard to think beyond it at this moment. However, let us make it clear we will continue to fight for a future for Harvies and in the coming weeks, as this decision sinks in, we will be working extremely hard on community ownership options. We will do so as the only Stevenston councillors who have shown they will put the interests of local people first.”

The pair also tore into SNP Councillors Davina McTiernan and Scott Davidson voting for the closure of Harvies pool, having previously claimed to be campaigning against it.

Cllrs Sweeney and Miller added: “It is an absolute disgrace that Councillors McTiernan and Davidson voted to close Harvies despite their previous political stunts.

“Having failed to back David Rodgers’ petition earlier this year, just a few weeks ago, as we were about to enter into the pool consultation, they were putting SNP logos on “Save Harvies” signs and posters and now they have voted for closure.

“We had a meeting with them following the announcement of their “campaign” and asked them to ditch the party branded campaign and instead work together to increase Stevenston turnout in the Council survey. Despite warm words at the meeting the SNP still went ahead and a joint campaigning effort never materialised. Instead, it was left to us to promote the survey online and in the end the number of respondents from Stevenston postcodes was lower than Ardrossan postcodes. This could have been so different had they worked with us.

“They have badly let down our community by failing to stand with us in support of Harvies despite their previous rhetoric. If they try and claim they’ve secured the continued operation of the pool as long as the infrastructure is viable the people of Stevenston will see right through it – after years of neglect the infrastructure is already not viable that was what this whole debate has been about. They could have backed our fight for investment to upgrade Harvies but instead they sold out.”

Despite the criticism the SNP claim they have “offered Stevenston a lifeline” over the potential community takeover of the building.

Cllr Davidson said: “I am delighted that the SNP group managed to secure this concession. Labour Councillors Sweeney and Miller put forward a proposal to take the swimming pool away from the proposed new Ardrossan Academy. It was clear to me that this would not be supported by Council and so we were determined to reach the best conclusion possible for Stevenston and the surrounding area.”

Councillor McTiernan added: “It was clear that the majority of Councillors would not support Councillor Sweeney’s motion to take the pool away from the new Ardrossan Academy as to do so may have put funding for the new school at risk. I believe we achieved the best out come possible by ensuring the pool at Harvies would remain open while an alternative solution was explored. I want to thank my constituents who led the campaign to save Harvies and to assure them that we haven’t given up yet!”