INVERCLYDE Council is splashing out an extra £36,000 to keep Gourock Outdoor Pool open until the end of October — but questions are being asked as to why it remains shut now.

The governing policy and resources executive sub-committee unanimously agreed to pump in the additional cash to compensate for the loss of summertime swimming during the Covid crisis.

But a councillor is demanding to know why the pool has stayed closed as lockdown eases, and his request for officials to highlight the relevant government guidance for justifying the continued mothballing has gone unanswered.

SNP group leader Chris McEleny said: "I'm a bit disappointed that Inverclyde Leisure [the pool's operator] don't seem to be taking an innovative approach.

"You could easily install outdoor showers and changing cubicles.

"That's what the English lidos are doing and it seems to work quite well.

"I'm just wondering if that conversation has taken place with Inverclyde Leisure, and why they seem to be waiting until they can use the [indoor] changing room area."

The council's head of environmental and public protection services, Martin McNab, told the meeting that outdoor pools are treated the same as currently-closed indoor pools in Scotland.

Education, communities and organisational development head, Ruth Binks, said: "I'm looking at the guidance and Martin has absolutely summed it up, outdoor swimming [in the sea and rivers] is not the same [category] as outdoor pools."

Councillor McEleny responded: "Could you point me to the relevant section of the guidance that says that outdoor pools are treated the same as indoor pools please?

"Ruth has just read it, so could she tell us the section."

Before Mr McEleny could be given an answer, council leader Stephen McCabe interjected: "I think we've given this a good airing, so I suggest that officers circulate the guidance."

Councillor McCabe also tasked Ms Binks with getting an update from Inverclyde Leisure regarding their plans for the reopening of the iconic pool.

Earlier in the meeting, Gourock independent councillor and Inverclyde's sports champion, Ronnie Ahlfeld, pictured, welcomed the extension to the outdoor swimming season.

Councillor Ahlfeld said: "I think that the Greenock Telegraph editorial summed it up perfectly in saying it would be a bit different taking a dip in the chill of autumn and that it was a splashing idea."

The pool on Gourock's Albert Road is currently set to reopen at the end of August.

Councillor McCabe said after the meeting: "Gourock Outdoor Pool is a jewel in the crown for Inverclyde as a visitor attraction and a local amenity for residents across the district.

"So many people have missed out on a large chunk of the open-air swimming season so far and this extension will hopefully allow pool users to make up for lost time.

"It's also an opportunity for people from outwith the area to discover Inverclyde and Gourock Pool — one of our many attractions — at a time when we're being encouraged to substitute summer holidays abroad for a staycation."

Councillor Ahlfeld said: "After so many months stuck indoors during lockdown, it’s important that we do all we can to encourage people back outside to safely enjoy things like our historic Gourock Outdoor Pool once again.

"The pool is good for the health and wellbeing of those who use it but is also a key visitor attraction through which to bring people to Inverclyde to enjoy what we have to offer and support the local economy.

"I was delighted to support the proposal at committee."