SOUTHEND Council will warn two feuding swimming clubs to settle their differences or they will be banned from using all public pools in the borough, the Echo can reveal.

In an extraordinary move, the local authority will tell Southend Swimming Club (SOS) and Borough of Southend Swimming Club (BOSS) they have until October 1 to end their dispute.

Failure to do so will see their access to the borough’s £13.5million Swimming & Diving Centre at Garon Park and other public pools withdrawn from January.

The council will then work with the ASA, the swimming governing body, to form a brand new club which will use the 25m pool in Eastern Avenue.

Nick Harris, the council’s head of culture, adult & community services, said: “We accept it is unusual for a local authority to get involved in a private dispute between two community clubs like this.

“But this is about the best use of a facility and getting value for a considerable investment of public money.”

The clubs have about 400 members between them and are two of the most established in the county. They have produced a host of top swimmers over the years, and the council acknowledges the move could see them move out of the borough.

But the local authority has run out of patience after using volunteers, council officers and ASA officials to mediate and carry out “protracted negotiations” over the past year.

The clubs were consulted three years ago and agreed their amalgamation was the best way to develop swimming in the borough, from grassroots through to elite level.

They agreed it would result in a streamlining of administration, pooling of resources, a coordinated timetable, and a single, stronger club to represent the borough in competitions, which would in turn attract more members.

The new club was also to benefit from extra support from the ASA, including the funding of an extra coach, and investment in creating better links with local schools.

It was agreed they would begin to operate as a single club when the new Garon Park facility opened in November last year.

But at the pool’s grand opening, swimmers from SOS refused to get in the water with their BOSS counterparts, and instead held up protest posters over plans for joint training sessions.

The council says this move was “for reasons that are difficult to comprehend”.

Councillor Derek Jarvis, lead member for culture and tourism, said: “Now they are on notice. If they can find a way to move forward with this then that would be the best thing all round.

“We still really want to work with them to have one club, which will be in the best interests of everyone.”

A report on the proposal will go before the council’s cabinet on Tuesday, June 14.