COUNCIL bosses have been urged not to “kick into the long grass” the future of Temple Cowley Pools after campaigners won an application giving them first chance to buy it.

Residents fighting to keep open the pool – which Oxford City Council wants to sell, potentially for houses to be built on the site – gave councillors a petition calling on them to work together.

It comes after the council this month registered the Temple Road facility as an asset of community value, meaning campaigners will get the first chance to strike a deal rather than it being sold on the open market.

It gives the Save Temple Cowley Pools campaign, headed by Nigel Gibson, six months to raise cash to buy it – but the council said this must match its market value.

Previously a value of £1.5m has been put on the site but the council is no longer giving a figure.

Executive board member for leisure services Mike Rowley said the Labour-run authority should “note the petition and move on”.

He said: “The city council could not have been more helpful to the purposes Mr Gibson is referring to, including agreeing to designate it as a community asset under the Localism Act 2011.

“I know officers have given considerable assistance to the group in preparing their proposal.”

But Green Party group leader Craig Simmons put forward a motion – voted down by the Labour majority – to work with the group to keep the pool.

He said: “It is a very much-loved facility and it is very well used. I get people talking about it to me on the doorstep year round.”

Liberal Democrat Jim Campbell told councillors: “In the end best value for the council is important but that does not always mean the highest cost.

“We would urge you to look at this with an open mind and not just kick it into the long grass.”

Campaign leader Mr Gibson told this week’s council meeting: “The sale of the Temple Cowley Pools site offers a fantastic opportunity for the council to work with the community to make better use of publicly-owned land.”

He said it would be “an exciting and innovative development, providing an immediate and continuing financial return, and delivering a long-lasting legacy to the community of East Oxford that will energise an area that has seen a gradual decline in services and facilities over the last 20 years”.

The petition – the latest in a series by the group – got 1,587 signatures and all with 1,500 or more must be debated under council rules.

The council is building a replacement pool extension at Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre, Pegasus Road.