CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save a popular swimming pool have vowed to run it cheaper and open longer as they submitted their bid to take over the facility.
Members of the Splashback campaign, who made their bid today to take over Leith Waterworld for the local community, have produced their proposal after meeting with the city council’s economic development and leisure departments.
The bid outlines how costs at the pool, which shut in January after racking up a loss of £340,000 last year, could be driven down. Income-boosting measures include extended opening hours and introducing soft play facilities.
Campaigners admitted the pool would still require a council subsidy if the bid was successful, but added that this would be well below the national average for public leisure centres in Scotland.
Council bosses said details of any bids would remain confidential until they were considered in committee next month.
Splashback campaigner Johnny Gailey said: “It’s not that ambitious to take a public asset and make it work. It’s the Olympic Games at the moment and the whole nation has a feelgood factor, but that’s got to go across the whole of society.
“Without good leisure pools, people will not get into the water. The final results of a survey of Leith Waterworld we carried out recently showed that 74 per cent are swimming less now that Waterworld is closed.
“We are going to raise more income through opening for additional hours, increasing soft play facilities, putting on additional classes for a wider range of groups, adult classes, capacity for voluntary play schemes and so on.
“We will reduce the running costs but, more importantly, we will raise more income. Our bid is to remodel so that the subsidy required is less than £260,000 per annum, or £2.18 per user – substantially less.”
Mr Gailey said council officials who had met with campaigners were supportive.
He said: “The people from economic development and culture and leisure have been very helpful in our bid and they have not indicated they have a problem with the figures we have. They have also gone over an early stage proposal and said our figures make sense.
“Andrew Burns, the council leader, has always said he will give us all the help he can to get a bid in that’s credible, but it’s up to councillors whether they take a leap of faith and back our proposal.”
Councillors praised the group for successfully submitting its bid in time for today’s deadline.
Chas Booth, Green group member for Leith, said: “It’s a massive step forward. I’m really heartened that a bunch of local volunteers has put together a bid that could see the pool reopened.
“The people who have put this together deserve the heartfelt thanks of the council and the people of Edinburgh.”
Gordon Munro, Labour group member for Leith, said: “It’s testimony to the commitment of the campaigners to get this far in the process and I am glad they have managed to put in a bid.
“I will wait and see who else bids now. I think the council has to look at all the options before it makes a decision.”
Richard Lewis, the city’s culture and leisure leader, said: “The report on bids is due to go to the policy and strategy committee on September 4 and, until then, details of any interest will remain confidential.”