ABINGDON’S much-loved outdoor pool has been saved by residents a second time after a campaign backed by our sister paper the Herald.

More than 80 per cent of people voted to keep the pool and invest in it in a consultation by its owner Vale of White Horse District Council.

It follows a campaign led by the Friends of Abbey Meadows Outdoor Pool to save the facility and a petition signed by more than 2,000 people.

Now the council will decide how it will spend half a million pounds to improve it.

Peter Harbour, of the Friends, said: “I am delighted that lovers of the Abbey Meadow pool who visit from near and far have shown massive support for the pool, as they did when it was threatened with closure in 1980 and in 2005.

“We are glad to hear of cross party support from the new council.

“The Friends have worked their socks off to reach this stage but we particularly want to thank Naomi Richardson for her skilled use of social media to involve people and to develop ideas of what is wanted and what is possible.”

Vale leader Matt Barber said he thought it was a “great” choice by residents to have the pool, which opened for the summer on Monday, as the centrepiece of the meadows.

He said: “What needs to be changed is the overall Abbey Meadows experience.

“At the moment we have a pool fenced off and closed for most of the time, it looks pretty dreary and drab and we need to change that.

“It absolutely needs to be improved, and not just the pool but how it interacts with the rest of Abbey Meadows, and hopefully it can draw more people in from Abingdon and further afield.”

Mr Barber said neither he nor the council had any preference as to what option people voted for.

He said: “Clearly now keeping the pool will be a part of what we do, so the next thing is what do we do with that half a million – do we move the kiosk? Do we get a franchise in to run the coffee shop?”

He said the options were not mutually exclusive and the Vale could decide to incorporate elements from the other scenarios.

“One option would have been a fitness trail around the meadows.

“If that turns out to be the most popular thing overall after saving the pool, we might look at how we could incorporate that.”

The official results of the consultation are due to be published this week, he said, and the Vale will then consider its options more fully.

The open-air pool was saved from closure in 2006 by a campaign backed by Abingdon Town Council and Abingdon Herald.

The Vale closed the pool for a year in 2005 to save money, but the town council, impressed by public opinion, increased its annual grant from £14,000 to £35,000, and the Vale council provided £70,000 to improve facilities.

In September, the Vale contracted a new firm, London-based GLL, to run the pool along with ten other leisure centres.