A GROUP of volunteers who have worked for more than 10 years to protect a Kidderminster park say they have always made it clear they would not be able to take over the running of its paddling pool.

The Shuttle reported last week that a petition had been launched to save the park paddling pool after a motion to close it down was delayed by town councillors. The petition has since attracted more than 800 signatures.

The town Conservative Group, which submitted the motion, said Kidderminster Town Council agreed to take over the pool from Wyre Forest District Council in 2016 with a view to the Friends of St George's Park or another group taking it over the following year.

But The Friends say they "have always made it absolutely clear" the group could not take on responsibility for the pool.

A spokesman said: "The Friends of St George’s Park are surprised that the Conservative Group on the town council say they only agreed to take on St George’s Park paddling pool in 2016 on the understanding we would take it on the following year. This is incorrect.

"The Friends have always made it absolutely clear we have neither a regular source of income nor the manpower to enable us to take on responsibility for the pool.

"We have repeatedly urged the town council to invest in improvements to the pool to reduce the running costs as we could see the present situation arising but to no avail.

"Volunteers from the Friends of St George’s Park have spent many hours trying to research what could be done to reduce running costs.

"Two county councillors have been most generous allocating money from their divisional grant funds to us that we hold ready to contribute to any such work, such as a new pool liner, a recycling pump or an automatic dosing system.

"However, we cannot guarantee that we will receive such generosity from councillors every year as they have many competing demands for help from other worthy causes and what they do give us would not cover a year’s running costs in any case.

"We do receive grants from other organisations such as The Big Local but they are restricted to one-off purchases and cannot be used to run the pool.

"While we continue to be happy to discuss with the town council ways of reducing the annual cost of the paddling pool in order to keep this well-used and much-loved facility open, there is no possibility of our taking over responsibility for it - nor do we feel it is fair to imply we have ever suggested otherwise."

But the Conservative Group maintains it was told the Friends had the cash to take over the pool.

A group spokesman said: "Since the issue of the paddling pool was first discussed in 2016, Councillor Fran Oborski and other Labour and Health Concern councillors have continually voted in support of motions that included references to the Friends of St George's, as can be seen in the public minutes.

At the January 2020 meeting of town council, Cllr Oborski told all present that the Friends of St George’s had the money to take over the running of the paddling pool, were looking into the solution of having a liner installed in the pool to resolve the issue of it cracking, and just needed more time.

"The council has also been lead to believe that two county councillors, who are also town councillors, have donated portions of their county funding to the Friends specifically for the paddling pool."

Cllr Oborski said she only told full council the Friends had money towards the pool's repairs.

Kidderminster Town Council now has until April to find a new owner for the pool, otherwise the proposal to close it down will again be put to members.