Group gives details of Waterworld cost-savings plan

Splashback protesters outside Waterworld. Picture: Dan Phillps

Splashback protesters outside Waterworld. Picture: Dan Phillps

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CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save a popular swimming pool have spelled out how they plan to save money as part of a community takeover.

Members of the Splashback campaign want to reopen Leith Waterworld, which shut in January, and have produced figures showing how it could be run on a reduced council subsidy.

The data will be presented to the council’s economic development department at a meeting next Friday.

Johnny Gailey, a Splashback campaigner, said a number of options were being looked at for reducing the subsidy paid to Leith Waterworld.

He said: “One way is by reducing expenditure and the other is by bringing in more income. We think that we can run the pool with different staffing numbers and we would be looking at streamlining staffing at the pool.

“The other thing we would look at would be greening the building – thinking about alternative energy and investing to make it more efficient.

“But the main thing we can do is bring in more money.

“We would consider opening for an additional day. We would substantially increase the soft play at the pool and we’d think about additional classes.”

Councillors had planned to sell the facility and raise £1 million towards the cost of refurbishing the Royal Commonwealth Pool, but they later voted to delay the sale by six months to allow a community bid to be put together.

Campaigners said their analysis confirmed the subsidy per user could be cut from the 2011 figure of £2.69 to less than £2.18 – the average paid to public leisure facilities across Scotland, as set out in recent data from the Sports and Recreation Trust Association.

With 126,000 visitors to the pool last year, the reduction would equate to a total subsidy of £260,000 – down from £340,000 in 2011.

Mr Gailey said: “This is not about asking for £260,000 – we have said we do not expect to run something that’s unsustainable but if it’s below the national average then there’s a moral reason for the council to look at our proposal.

“We are not asking for anything more than what visitors in other places are getting. If they can achieve it then the Capital can achieve it.”

Mr Gailey said campaigners had also launched a survey of how residents use Leith Waterworld and other pools in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

He said: “Of the people using the pool, 50 per cent are from Leith, 40 per cent are from elsewhere in Edinburgh – that’s 48,000 people – and another ten per come from outside Edinburgh.

“We believe there’s a market and a demand but according to our survey, people are swimming less so we are looking to reverse that.

“We would market the place – it hasn’t been marketed for seven years – and we’d market it across the city.”

A council spokesman said: “The council voted to postpone the sale of Leith Waterworld for six months to allow the campaign group to come forward with their proposals. Until these proposals have been submitted and considered, we cannot speculate about their viability.”

The Splashback survey can be accessed at splashbackedinburgh.blogspot.co.uk.

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