Waterworld shut but campaigners vow to battle on

Protesters take their petition to Waterworld's last day of business
Protesters take their petition to Waterworld's last day of business
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Campaigners who battled to save Leith Waterworld today vowed to continue their fight by lodging an official complaint about the way the council has handled the closure.

The protesters carried on collecting signatures on their petition yesterday and enjoyed one last swim before the doors closed on the pool at the end of the day.

But Johnny Gailey of campaign group Splashback insisted the closure would not be the end of the story. He said: “Just because the council has given up on Leith Waterworld doesn’t mean we have.”

Splashback sent a deputation to last month’s council meeting where Green councillor Alison Johnstone called for a stay of execution on the pool. She argued the decision on Waterworld must be subject to an “Equalities Impact Assessment” which has to be carried out when any facility is proposed for closure, setting out the consequences of the move.

Mr Gailey said recreation convener Deidre Brock told the meeting a draft impact assessment had been submitted to the council and was being assessed. But he questioned whether that was accurate, He said: “We think the whole process was not followed properly and we’re not sure what was said in the chamber was correct.

“We have been asking to see the assessment since the day after the meeting, but we have not had any response.”

He said the group planned to hand their petition, with an estimated 6500 signatures, to council chief executive Sue Bruce – and lodge an official complaint at the same time, He said: “We are putting in a formal complaint about what went on in the council chamber on December 22.

“We want to know if the impact assessment has been done, why have we not seen it and why have councillors not seen it?”

He said the group was also unhappy about the administration’s amendment to Cllr Johnstone’s motion.

“The amendment was put in by Deidre Brock, who is vice-chair of Edinburgh Leisure and Marjorie Thomas, who is on the board of Edinburgh Leisure. We don’t think that passes the objective test of whom they are representing.”

The decision to close Waterworld was taken by the previous council administration in 2005 as part of the plan to fund refurbishment of the Royal Commonwealth Pool, though the campaigners argue plummeting land values have put a question mark over the £1 million the council expected to receive.

The council says yesterday’s closure of Waterworld allows the immediate redeployment of staff to the Royal Commonwealth Pool and other facilities with minimal redundancies and the decommissioning of the Leith pool before they begin the scheduled commissioning of the Commonwealth Pool.

Councillor Brock said: “An Equalities Impact Assessment was not required in 2005 when the decision to close Leith Waterworld was taken, however an EQIA document should be finalised early next week.

“I know the Splashback campaign are very disappointed at the closure but ultimately it was the only possible course of action.

“We hope people will make good use of the other excellent swimming opportunities available in Leith, at Leith Victoria Swim Centre and the pool at Leith Academy, as well as enjoying again the completely refurbished Royal Commonwealth Pool from March 2012.”