Council alternatives to Leith Waterworld closure 'not good enough'

Organisers behind the Splashback campaign to save Leith Waterworld have said that alternatives offered by the City of Edinburgh Council are 'not good enough’.

On Wednesday, November 30 Councillor Deidre Brock, convenor of culture and leisure released a statement explaining that Leith Waterworld must close in January as planned and the building be sold to help fund the refurbishment of the Royal Commonwealth Pool (RCP).

Councillor Brock explained that LWW makes the biggest loss out of all swimming pools in the city run by the council’s arm’s length company, Edinburgh Leisure.

This, she has said is due to the high numbers of staff required at the facility in accordance to official guidelines.

The alternatives offered to those who currently use LWW include the Royal Commonwealth Pool which is due to reopen in Spring 2012 and the Leith Victoria Swim Centre which have both been refurbished.

Councillor Brock said: "Our revitalised RCP, guaranteed to be a huge hit with children and families from all over Edinburgh, will be reclaiming its position early in the new year as the 'destination' swimming pool for the whole city.

“Fun aqua sessions and children's activities will be on offer in the special, warm-temperature teaching pool and the venue's enormously popular soft play 'Clambers' facilities will be bigger and better than ever, with a dedicated party room included.

“There are also other excellent swim facilities on offer just a few metres away from LWW at the refurbished Leith Victoria Swim Centre.”

However, campaigners at the first meeting of of Splashback held on the same day that Councillor Brock made her statement – disagree with her and the decision to close LWW.

Johnny Gailey lives and works locally. He has two children, the first of which was born in 2005 – the same year as the council confirmed LWW would be sold.

He said: “We want a service at Leith Waterworld, full stop.

“We are not sure how best to achieve this but at the moment we do not want to cancel any ideas out, whether that is council ownership, private ownership or something else."

Mr Gailey found out about the closure a fortnight ago when visiting LWW with his children and said at the public meetings that the alternatives were "not good enough".

“I have been gathering facts and figures and have discovered that the cost of Leith Waterworld to Edinburgh Leisure is £300,000, ok it is a loss but it is not we believe that is an investment, an investment in Leith and an investment in young people, children and parents.

“The decision taken by the Labour administration in 2005 is outdated and based on outdated figures.

“The facility attracts 100,000 more swimmers than it did then. It also costs £100,000 per year but it shows that the demand is increasing.

“We are supposed to go to the Commonwealth Pool but that is an hour and a half bus journey for me and as one of the older children said at the meeting, it is not somewhere that he and his pals could go to have fun.

“As for Leith Victoria, it is too cold for young children plus it is for lane swimming. The swimmers there would not welcome the youngsters.”

Helen Howe works as a nurse and regularly uses LWW with her two children, Mia, 6, and Pascal, 4. She said: “It is something that we do together as a family and you don’t have to be rich to do it.

“There is a lot of money in Edinburgh spent on tourists but what about the people living here, the people of Leith really need this.

“It is important, it gets people down to Leith and it attracts all types of people including those who might not otherwise go swimming and encourages them to be active.

“When you consider the obesity we have in Scotland we should support every way to get children in to sport from a young age.

“There is nothing else like this in the city and for the capital not to have a leisure pool seems unbelievable. The Commonwealth Pool is not a substitute.”

She added: “The thing is they are throwing money into the trams but can’t put money towards other things that are already here and need supported to keep them going.”

Edinburgh Leisure Director of Operations Graeme Gardiner said: “Leith Waterworld will close to customers on Sunday, January 8.

“We would like to thank all of our customers for their loyalty over the years and look forward to welcoming them through the doors of any of our alternative venues across the city, the closest of which is Leith Victoria Swim Centre.

“In addition, we are looking forward to the re-opening of the Royal Commonwealth Pool next Spring which will host a vast range of facilities for children and young families to enjoy.”

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