CAMPAIGNERS fighting to keep Pitsea swimming pool were today dealt a bitter blow after council chiefs published a report recommending its closure.

An agenda published ahead of next week’s cabinet meeting outlines a council plan to transfer the ownership of the pool to London and Cambridge Properties to enable a major regeneration of the town.

Residents and opposition councillors reacted angrily to the news and vowed to still fight to keep it open.

However, the council’s ruling Tories said the plans are the only way to secure a brighter future for ailing Pitsea town centre.

Under the plans the pool in Northlands Pavement, row of shops including Aldi, and part of the market will be lost to a large new Morrison’s supermarket which will create 350 local jobs and 200 more during construction.

Six new shop units will be developed alongside the supermarket, including a new home for Aldi, while a new 100 pitch market will go on the site of the former Railway Hotel and offices, including Pembroke House, which will be revamped creating an opportunity for 50 further jobs.

Malcolm Buckley, cabinet member for environment said: “Pitsea town centre is declining and in need of investment – this is not in any doubt, and the council has to take this opportunity for major private investment.

Gavin Callaghan, Labour councillor for Pitsea North West, vowed to keep fighting to secure the pool staying open as part of the regeneration.

He said: “We were elected on a pledge that we would fight to keep the pool open. More than 3,000 people have signed a petition against the closure, but under a council procedure they won’t discuss that for another six months."