By Andy Lloyd
Councillor for Heath Ward and DBC Cabinet Member
We’re pretty proud of Fairfield.
When you first elected us to run your council, we inherited a tired and delapidated leisure centre that cost more than £200,000 a year just to maintain. Complaints were rising, along with the bills to keep it going and whilst other towns were boasting new pools, new gyms and new sports halls, Dartford’s old leisure centre had just been left to lag behind -unloved and without investment.
Of course, that’s not something we would put up with and whilst other councils cut and axed their capital programmes, we insisted on INVESTING in new and better facilities for families.
Building new swimming pools is one of the most expensive and complex projects a council can take on so we looked creatively at the problem. Fairfield was in a great location, on a great site and the size of the pool ( though neglected ) was impressive. We decided not to build a new centre, but to completely strip out and refurbish the one we had!
It was a long and complex refurbishment and as the DBC Cabinet Member entrusted to deliver the project it meant lots of long hours and quite a lot of stress!
All that was worth it though and the new Fairfield opened in February 2016. New users flocked to the facility and it became so popular that operators Places for People have now invested in more Gym space, extended changing areas and additional fitness studio space.
Today, Dartford has a clean, bright and modern leisure facility to be proud of that has gone on to win a prestigious Public Building Award – a fitting recognition for a leisure facility of the highest quality.
The days when Dartford Council dipped into taxpayers’ money to keep the pool going have gone. In fact, it’s now so successful that the council actually receives a payment from the operator which we can plough back into services.
When you see the bright new Fairfield, along with all the other sports and leisure facilities we’ve delivered it’s easy to take these things for granted. Please don’t. They happen because you’ve elected a community-led Conservative council that has real vision and works hard for the town.