Monday, 3 December 2012

Baby steps!

This weekend, Splashback held our first birthday party! A bouncy castle, drawing activities, a campaign update, architect's drawings, the launch of the 'Splashback' wristband, a singalong and a cake!! 

Over seventy supporters dropped by to catch up with our progress, as we work towards resubmitting our bid at the end of January 2013 - great to see both old and new faces there!!

For those who couldn't make it - here's a wee slideshow we presented with the highlights of the campaign's first year!!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Happy birthday to us!

First Birthday Bash Sun 2 December

Splashback turns one this week, and here we are, still fighting to save Waterworld! When the campaign started up on 30 November last year, none of us were expecting to still be fighting this battle a year later, so...

To celebrate/commiserate, we're having a First Birthday Party, and you, our supporters, are invited. 

WHEN: Sunday 2 December 2012, 10.30am-1pm (drop-in)
WHERE: Out Of The Blue Drill Hall, EH6 8RG
WHAT: Family-friendly party fun, an update on campaign progress, AV displays, food and drink (for sale). Bring some cash, we might persuade you to part with it in aid of the campaign! Drop-in, with update talk at 11.30am. All welcome.

See the event on Facebook

Monday, 10 September 2012

Coming home

To celebrate the return of Edinburgh's Olympic and Paralympian sporting heroes, and mark the forthcoming decision on the future of Leith Waterworld by Edinburgh Council ... Splashback has organised a one off night of film screenings...

We hope you can make it!

Click on flyer for more info...

Friday, 31 August 2012


With two weeks to go until the decision is taken on the future of the Leith Waterworld site, Splashback is today publishing our bid to reopen the pool.  The decision will now be taken in the Full Council meeting on 20th September.

We have worked over the last six months to put together what we believe is a viable plan for the reopening of Leith Waterworld.   We have looked at the impact of closure and the potential benefits of reopening.  The significant support that we have received from the third sector, businesses but most importantly from the public in Leith and the wider Edinburgh community, have convinced us that the reopening is both possible and desirable.  From our survey we found that 74% of respondents now reported that they and their families were swimming less since closure.  Within our bid, we set how we can safeguard the site and run it, not for the Council, but with the Council. 

  • We would set up a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) to lead and manage the operation.
  • We would reduce the requirement for subsidy from c. £340,000 to £273,000 in the first year, reducing to £223,000 in year 3. 
  • This would bring the operating subsidy required in line and then under,  the average subsidy for swimming pools in Scotland (£2.18 per visit x 126,000 visits = £274,680)
  • We would increase revenue streams through expanded soft play, a slight increase in pricing, opening for an additional day and offering special schools use during that day. 
  • In the longer term, we would seek to reduce the heating costs through a phased programme of capital investment, using sources of grant funding available to  charities and community organisations.
The Council are selling the ground lease for the site.  We believe that we, the people of Edinburgh, already own Leith Waterworld, and as such we are bidding to buy the ground lease for £1.  The decision will be based on achieving 'best value' for the city.  Splashback believes that 'value' is not just about the cost, but about what something offers in return for that investment. 
  • The benefits of swimming on people's health and wellbeing are numerous.
  • The benefits of providing a place where children can get comfortable in water as they learn to swim are well established.
  • The benefits of providing a pool that allows disabled people to enter with dignity are obvious.
  • The benefit of operating a leisure pool in an area where a third of all children live in poverty is just.
  • The benefits to the local economy of having an attraction that brings more people to the area  ripple out beyond the amenity into the local community.
 In May, the new Lab/SNP administration set out a new coalition agreement - "A Contract WITH the Capital" (our emphasis).  The preamble states "We also need to acknowledge that there has been a breakdown of trust between the residents of Edinburgh and their elected representatives on the Council.  That relationship needs to be repaired.  It will not be accomplished quickly, or easily, but it needs to be addressed. 

With the Local Government elections of 3 May 2012 over, this new contract with the capital marks a fresh start, with a Council willing to listen to local people and work together with local communities, business and the third sector. A Council where co-operation, fairness, accountability and responsibility really matter." 

If the community bid makes sense to you:
All letters of support, gratefully received - splashbackedinburgh[at]
Please also contact your local councillor to let them know that you support our bid to reopen Leith Waterworld.

FINAL Splashback Bid Document

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Passing the baton on

On Tuesday 7th August, on a beautiful summer's day, Splashback formally handed our community bid to the Council, to operate Leith Waterworld.

We have spent a lot of time and hard work on the bid over the last six months, and we believe we have got a credible alternative - For clarity sake, we are not saying we would run the pool FOR the Council, we are saying we would run the pool WITH the Council.  They are, after all (we hope) part of the community.  We are now handing over the 'baton' to the Council, and it's up to them whether they run with it... whether they take the plunge... whether they make the leap of faith... (etc!) 

We believe that through the investigation and research that we have undertaken, we have proved that Leith Waterworld is a unique facility in the north of Edinburgh. Our survey revealed that 74% of respondents (three-quarters!) reported that they were swimming less as a family since the closure.  Rather than being a 'drain' omn public resources, in fact for an annual investment less that the average subsidy to Scottish swimming pools, we believe we can run this facility for the longer term benefit of the people of Leith and Edinburgh.

Whilst the nation is basking in the feelgood factor generated by this current generation's atheletes, Team Splashback is looking to the future - and asking that we have the chance to reopen Leith Waterworld as an investment in our children, our community and our future.

The Council will meet on 4 September to discuss the bids they have received, and to consider the future of the site. We will be publishing our bid, for the public to read shortly, so that we can gather letters and messages of support to take to the meeting. In the meantime, below is an article published in the Scotsman last week, in respond to the bid going in...

Article from The Scotsman

Gina Davidson: People power makes a splash

CAST your mind back to the heady days of the council election campaign and the promises that were being thrown around like so much wedding confetti by political parties desperate to win your vote.
The big pledge they all seemed to sign up to basically boiled down to becoming a more listening local authority, a more communicative council, indeed a council which would run the city in co-operation with its residents rather than handing down decisions taken behind closed doors and then attempting to prevent 

Who wouldn’t agree with that? Indeed, it could well be one of the 
factors that won Labour – the main insitgator of co-operation – just enough votes to make it the largest group in the City Chambers, though not quite big enough to go it alone.

And when we spoke before the 
election, Labour leader Andrew Burns told me that his vision of a “co-
operative Capital” meant there would be a radical change to the way services were delivered, that the talents of people in communities would be utlitised and that the council would “help facilitate what they want to do”. Well right now there’s a perfect opportunity for proving that these pledges were about more than just words.

Earlier this week, the Splashback campaign group submitted proposals for the community to take over the running of Leith Waterworld – the saga of the closure of which has been told in much detail in the pages of this paper over the last few years.

Edinbugh Leisure seemed unable to make it financially viable (although the climbing centre at Ratho has been kept going despite massive losses) and handed it back to the city council to operate. It’s my understanding that the board of Edinburgh Leisure didn’t think for a minute that the council would just close it. But despite much local campaiging, that’s what happened and the last splash was heard in January. However, people power –which seems to be becoming a major force in Edinburgh, just look at the vocal strength of the cycling lobby –was angrily moved into action. Now Splashback has submitted a bid to the council outlining how it could take over the running of Waterworld, how it would boost income by extending opening hours and introducing soft play and more classes, and how it would reduce operating costs.

The outline of its plans don’t seem to be completely pie in the sky and it readily admits that a subsidy would still have to be forthcoming from the council, although it would be much smaller than is usually the case with such facilities.

Now there will be those who suggest that no subsidy should be paid to keep places like Waterworld going. That they should be able to pay their way, sink or swim so to speak. But this a community resource, not a chain of coffee shops or a private leisure club which relies on people forking out hundreds of pounds for the privilege of saying they’re a member.

Precedents have already been set. When the Crags Sports Centre was closed by Edinburgh Leisure a new charity was formed between Boroughmuir Blaze Basketball Club, basketballscotland and Castle Rock Edinvar Housing Association to reopen the place. It’s now thriving – even running holiday sports clubs for children this summer.

Similarly, the Queensferry Recreation Centre, another victim of cuts, has been taken over by the not-for-profit Queensferry Sports and Community Hub Company, created by Queensferry Rugby Football Club.

These places are still open because the people who used them valued them. It’s the same with Leith Waterworld – even if the costs of running a swimming pool are bound to be so much more than those of a gym hall.

And which councillor, given the wave of enthusiasm there currently is for all sporting endeavours thanks to the Olympics, would want to condemn an area of the city to having fewer places to be active? To leave very small children and the disabled, who find the warm waters of Waterworld more conducive to swimming than those of more ordinary pools, without the opportunity to go for a swim?
The newly refurbished Royal 
Commonwealth Pool is a fantastic resource – the Team GB swimmers who used it before the Olympics would testify to that. But that shouldn’t mean other pools have to shut to accommodate the city having such a first-class 

Leith Waterworld is now Labour’s and Andrew Burns’ first test on proving that they really believe in the co-op ideal and that they are the way forward for this city. Here is a place which the public wants open, which it’s prepared to run with just a little financial help from the council. It’s time the council stepped up to the podium and proved it’s got the will to see through its promises.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Where next?

Photo by Anna Mitrović Kotúčková

To confirm:  Splashback is taking time out from the Olympics, to prepare our community bid.  We will be handing over our bid to the City of Edinburgh Council on Tuesday morning, in advance of the 7 August at 12 noon deadline.

Our campaign aim from the start, was to safeguard the future of Leith Waterworld and re-open the facility for the people of Edinburgh, and beyond.  We were open to how this might be done, and we now believe that we have a strong case for how the pool's future could be secured by the community, for the community.  That community is broad, and includes users, businesses, the voluntary sector, the social enterprise sector, lesiure operators and The City of Edinburgh Council. 

Please support our bid with messages and statements of support of why you think the reopening of Leith Waterworld is important, either personally or professionally. The Councillors will be reviewing our case during August, and all support we get adds momentum.  We will be collating the messages, stripping out the personal details and forwarding to the Councillors so they can review when they make the decision.

You can email us at splashbackedinburgh[at]
Tweet us @splashback
Post us a message on our wall at our facebook page:

Thanks for all the support the campaign has received over the last 9 months - we're ready to give birth to something new!

Friday, 22 June 2012

The Ugly Duckling

Fun at the Leith Gala

Lots of people have been asking us what's happening with the campaign to re-open Leith Waterworld - we have, following the Council's decision to put the sale of the ground lease for the site on hold for six months until 7 August, been busy working towards building a community bid.  Last Friday the new administration invited Splashback to join an internal briefing to new Leith/Leith Walk councillors on the current situation with Leith Waterworld.  Below is the text of the briefing which we put together for the meeting on Tuesday...

"If the RCP is the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Council/Edinburgh Leisure's swimming portfolio, then Leith Waterworld is the' ugly duckling' .  The motion in Feb was to delay the sale of LWW to see if a community bid might be forthcoming.  It was important to us, that Splashback was not mentioned in this motion – we always said that we were just one part of a community and that others would be needed.  I don’t need to say that we consider the Council to be part of that community.
So what have we been doing for the last four months?

We have undertaken an extensive survey of the alternative sites both within and outwith Edinburgh, through our Homeless Itinerant Bathing Society (Edinburgh Branch) project – and we believe that we have comprehensively proved that there is nothing like LWW available locally.  We have always said that Leith Waterworld is not a swimming pool – that it’s a playpark with water. Edinburgh Leisure is in agreement with us that there is now a gap in their portfolio.
We have been working on a business model, looking at future ways to increase the revenue whilst reducing the expenditure and we believe we have got a model that works, and that brings the subsidy required down to under the Scottish average of £2.18 per visitor, which would equate, according to the final years attendance, to a annual subsidy of £260,000.  We believe that this makes this an issue of equality – we are not asking for more than is average.  These figures have been discussed, tested and found to be credible in our meeting with council officials on 25th May.

There is no doubt that they is more to be done on the figures – our projections don’t include any projected new income streams – such as an increased soft play/classes or increased opening hours. We also need to input the alternative pricing options we have uncovered through our market research.  All of this takes time – a business plan is solely an exercise if it is not credible.  At our meeting with officials it was great to test this, but we would value further expertise from the Council.

All business plans are built on solid, robust market research.  We have sought comparators – Wester Hailes Pool and Dunbar Pool – and it is fair to say we have been frustrated in our efforts.  People, I would suggest, view us as an itch rather than credible which is as you can imagine incredibly frustrating – we need the weight of the Council to assist us with this.

We have designed a survey and taken it out on a roadshow – from the Parents Like Us festival, to outside LWW itself, at the Leith Gala Day and hopefully this Sunday, Edinburgh Leisure permitting, at Royal Commonwealth Pool.
Leith Gala Day - running on Polish techno!
We have had numerous meetings to build a community of support for what we are trying to do – this is my fifth meeting this week alone! We are going to the Senscot Sport and Social Enterprise Conference in Glasgow this week to hear about other models of community run facilities in Scotland and further afield.

We have secured offers of help from:
  • Leith Community Council
  • Leith Links Community Council
  • Leith Traders Association
  • SENScot
  • Community Enterprise Scotland
  • SportsScotland
  • Community Development Trusts Association
  • The Atlantis Community Leisure Pool, Oban
  • David Lloyd Leisure – who are willing to get us an independent look at Edinburgh Leisure’s capital estimates
  • Various Councillors
  • Not least the support of the public in Leith and in the wider Edinburgh community.
All of this takes time to build and time to secure.  We have met with council officials to discuss our potential bid, and in truth, we feel we have the door has been answered but the Council are not sure whether to let us in yet.

At the moment we have got various parties to the table: the one seat not taken up is that of the Council.

We are pleased that perhaps we are seeing a more co-operative approach – our invite today is proof we hope of the new administration’s desire to be a co-operative Council.  We hope that this co-operation will continue…

Please don’t doubt the sincerity of our effort, the scale of the effort in terms of voluntary labour goner into this, and our desire to convert this investment of effort to build a positive solution that provides increased leisure opportunities to Leith but as importantly to all of Edinburgh and its visitors – a win-win for all involved.

In terms of the briefing today – we don’t want to rake over the past, but we believe that the decision taken in 2005 is redundant – those were the good times – everyone was high – Edinburgh was in the middle of a property boom. Trams were going to come to Leith as part of a network across the city; a million homes were to be built as part of the stock transfer; Western Harbour was to be a flowering of a Riviera, a new European style Leith – buoyed by foreign investment, and employment was at a record high. At that time, the decision was part of a wider review into the city’s national and regional sporting infrastructure. The name of the game was to be competitive – to compete with other cities. The decision needs to be seen in that context.

And then the crash happened.

The plan that this formed part of is now in bits – no community stadium in Sighthill (despite £1.2m spent on design); no refurb of Meadowbank due to a fall in property prices; no football academy at Hunters Hall; the bailout of Ratho had cost the public purse some £11m since 2005; the RCP project has been completed but at the cost of £7m over the agreed 2009 figure. City Park? Even the officials are not sure if it has been sold.

The sole part of the plan going through unchanged is to deal to sell Leith Waterworld for a hopeful figure of £1.5m, although again there is uncertainly about the funding gap at the RCP. And yet since the decision was taken in 2005, LWW gets an average £100,000 more income per annum.

We think we need to now consider the future of this site within the context of a recession and the impact that this has had on people’s lives…

Now, whenever I go to buy a choc ice, I don’t just take into account the price tag alone. Yes, I look at what it costs but I also look at what’s inside; how much chocolate there is, how cool it will make me feel and how luxurious the taste is – and I weight up whether I think its worth the price tag – it’s value.

We believe you’re being presented with the price tag, without an understanding of the value – we believe that best value is not the cost alone – its what’s valuable. I’ll come to the costs, but first I want to look at this value…

On Monday Alan Wells was quoted in the papers saying Scottish Kids need “a kick up the backside’. They don’t, they need local local facilities – we prefer the carrot to the stick.

More revealing in the article was the statistics that:
  • 27% of Scottish children aged 2 – 5 yrs are overweight
  • 17% of them obese.
(This is 2 – 5 yrs olds olds…) Exactly who LWW provides for.
  • 1 in 3 kids leave primary school not being able to swim
  • 1 in 3 children in Leith live in poverty.
  • Free primary swimming was scrapped by Edinburgh Leisure in Jan 2010, resulting ( from our reading of the stats and contested by EL) in an almost halving of numbers of primary aged children swimming (25,000 instead of 40,000 per annum).
Leith Waterworld had in the last year 126,000 visits.
  • It provided a space for families, living in cramped conditions, to get out from under each other’s feet and enjoy each other, building healthy relationships
  • It provided a pool where disabled users could enter and exit with dignity, rather than being hoisted in and out
  • It brought 48,000 people from throughout Edinburgh to Leith – think of the impact to the local economy.
  • And 12,000 from outwith Edinburgh – it was a tourist attraction
  • And all this achieved without any active marketing since 2005.
Splashback is not coming to Council pleading that it is reopened – we have put the begging bowl away. We are coming to you with the facts about the impact of the closure. We would love to see what studies the Council or Edinburgh Leisure have done on this?

Our survey (we currently have some 600 responses) shows that of our respondents:

  • 89% attended LWW regularly
  • 30% monthly
  • and 26% weekly

We asked ‘Are you and your family swimming less since the closure of LWW?", and 67% said yes – I know this from my own family’s experience.

89% said they would prefer to use LWW to other pools were it to reopen

The top three groups that respondents thought LWW was particularly important to were:
  • Families with young children
  • Disabled Users
  • Single parent families

The top three improved amenities were:
  • A Café
  • Enlarged and improved soft play facilities
  • Parent and Baby classes

84% of respondents would pay £12 or higher for a family swim (which was £8.60)
Nearly half would pay £6 for an adult swim
69% of people would consider an annual swim membership

We believe that a reopened facility would be a fantastic opportunity for this council to make its mark. To state its intention to listen and co-operate with communities. To put community desires ahead of party politics. Splashback has done what it can, within the time allocated to make this a reality, but we don’t doubt the amount of work still to be done, but we would really value the Council’s support and help. We think that this could be a co-operative community flagship.
Splashback at the Senscot national conference on Sports and Social Enterprise in Glasgow, June 2012

Finally the figures:

There are only three figures you need to know.
  1. The ongoing subsidy. We believe and that we can get this down to under the Scottish average annual subsidy for swimming pools (which would equate to £260,000, reducing as we expand and add to income streams). This has been investigated with Council officials and requires further input on our business model.
  1. The costs of capital refurbishment. Edinburgh Leisure have given us estimates which we would like to have independent verification of. It's entirely understandable that EL haven't spent too long on the assessment, as after all there’s no benefit to EL as it was a Council decision. To date, they are all we're got.  Their estimates say:
    1. £155,000 to recommission/reopen the facility
    2. £800,000 over the next five years
    3. £2.2m over the next 10 years
All capital costs we believe would sourced, not from Council coffers, but from national regeneration schemes, sourced in partnership with the Council
·      People and Communities Fund
·      Jessica Fund
·      BIG Lottery fund
·      Social Enterprise funding streams
·      Social Investment Funds
·      Inspiring Scotland

Resulting in zero impact to council budgets.

  1. Finally the cost of the capital sale of the ground lease, to plug the RCP funding gap. Originally this was to be £1m, with any additional monies pledged to Leith based swimming facilities. Although there is a lack of clarity on this position now, even amongst council officials. Currently it is mooted that £1.5m is needed from LWW sale, with £1.5m from City Park sale – however Council officials cannot even tell us if City Park has been sold yet. Irregardless of whether it £1m or £1.5m, this is the sum that we are talking about, not the £5.089m alluded to in the briefing provided to Councillors. That £4.089 has been dealt with and allocated as part of the RCP prudential borrowing scheme…

Councilors, the most important thing about today it that we have the chance to represent ourselves, rather than be represented.  And apologies from other campaigners, who couldn’t make it today due to the very short notice given.

For us, this marks a more listening and respectful approach.  We take heart from this – we are pleased that we are starting to see signs of co-operation.  We are heartened by the administrations talk of a co-operative council, heartened by plans for setting up a Co-operative Development Unit within the Council to assist communities in exactly this sort of project, and heartened and by the national SNP’s recently announced Community Empowerment Bill.

All this starts to signal to us, a Council that wants to work in tandem with communities and not against them.

We would, ideally, like to put Splashback to bed – to launch Springboard – a new partnership that considers the future of LWW with all the seriousness and respect that this issue deserves. But we are not blind - ultimately we want to see if reopening LWW is feasible. If it’s not, lets not do it. If it is, then lets work together towards that end.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Wave Generator

Picture by Doug
It's election day on Thursday, and we urge all supporters of the campaign to re-open Leith Waterworld to use their votes.  Splashback are in the process of developing a community bid for the facility, however we need political support in order for the re-opening to be feasible.  We have undertaken a short survey of candidates in the Leith and Leith Walk wards, asking them to respond to the following questions:

1. As a candidate standing for local election, do you support the re-opening of Leith Waterworld?

2. Do you support, in principle, The City of Edinburgh Council providing an annual revenue subsidy for the running of Leith Waterworld if a community bid can succeed in getting subsidy required below the national average for pools? (£2.18 per visitor)                                
  (see page 11 of West Lothian Leisure's Annual Report 2010-2011for national figures

3. Do you agree, in principle, that Leith Waterworld should receive an equivalent subsidy per user to that of the Royal Commonwealth Pool? (£2.54 in most recent accounts)

4. Can we have a statement on Leith Waterworld please, and any other comments for potential voters?

Click here for the Leith ward candidates responses.
Click here for the Leith Walk ward candidates' responses

We are aware that the closure of Leith Waterworld affected voters throughout the city - indeed our research found that whilst some 50% of visitors were from the Leith area, 40% came from throughout the city, with the remaining 10% coming from outwith Edinburgh.  We would therefore urge voters throughout the city to review the responses from candidates as they weigh up who to vote for on Thursday.

In summary:
  • The Greens are committed to the re-opening of Leith Waterworld as either a community owned and run facility, or as a publically run facility.
  • Labour, in principle, have agreed that a community owned pool would require a ongoing public subsidy, will work co-operatively with us on that basis and indeed have been doing so.
  • The independents (who responded) are, as expected, more than willing to represent public opinion and stand up for the re-opening Leith Waterworld within any new chamber
  • The SNP won't commit their support, even in principle,  until a business case is prepared (by us) showing how LWW might run.  One response outline a belief that a community owned pool should ultimately be self-funding - a tall order not expected of any other pool in Edinburgh.
  • The Lib Dems believe that 'the first step' in any serious bid is to meet with council officials - blithly ignoring the numerous weekends of street campaigning, meetings and time and energy spent by the campaign team to date
  • The Tories are, on the whole, not supportive- special mention to Leith candidate Nicola Ross's responses for brevity. However they are willing to relook at the business case if the subsidy required can be considerably lowered.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Slippery when wet

Image by Doug
Next week is of course election week here in the Capital, when local councillors are elected to represent their constituents views.  Supporters of the Splashback campaign to reopen Leith Waterworld will have the opportunity to cast their vote(s) for candidates who they feel represent their best interests.

Splashback has attended hustings in both Leith and Leith Walk wards and asked exactly who supports the reopening of Leith Waterworld.  Entertaining reports are available of both the Leith event via STV local, and the Leith Walk event via The Spurtle are available.

We are aware that certain assertions become fact - such as The Tories belief expressed by Cameron Rose that LWW was in receipt of the biggest subsidy in Edinburgh for a pool (wrong! - that'll be the RCP, subsidized by approx £900,000 per annum)...  That LWW wasn't viable and therefore had to be shut (wrong! all pools require subsidy and in fact national average is £2.18 per visitor - which would equate to circa £261,000 for Leith Waterworld, not far from £340,000 it required in its last year)... that LWW wasn't used enough (wrong! LWW had over £100,000 additional income per year from entries from when the decision to close was made in 2005)  Many councillors have expressed the desire to move on...

We too want to move on, and next week represents an opportunity to do so.  It's worth remembering some of the facts -  for all those fact hungry punters, here's our original briefing published just prior to us going to full Council in December to ask them to review all the options available (they declined)

Image by Doug
Splashback is continuing to make the case for reopening Leith Waterworld and is currently working on how a reopened facility could run successfully.  However, it is our belief that the pool will require a subsidy, and should in fairness (given the subsidies available to other pools) expect this from Council...

We have asked all candidates in Leith/Leith Walk ward for their positions in a short online survey, and we will publish the responses in full for all our supporters to see next Monday, in time for making their mind up as they go to the polls.

And for the less cerebral.  Here's Wounded Knee's really rather catchy folk summation, 'Splashback Blues', to be hummed as you head to the polling stations:

Splashback Blues by theknee

Friday, 20 April 2012

Final score

Olympic Games legacy - The Watercube in Bejing

For the last three months, Splashback has been touring Edinburgh's pools, checking out the alternatives for those families left homeless by the closure of Leith Waterworld.  Whilst we expected that what was on offer would not match our experience in Leith Waterworld, what struck us was that in many pools families were notable by their absense.

Put simply, where are the 2500 people who visited Leith Waterworld each weekend swimming now? From our research, worryingly, they're not...

Here's the end of year report for the pools we visited... in summary:
Telling statistics about the innate capacities of the pools rather than effort…

We marked according to our  and our children’s needs, and whilst the swimming facilities are excellent, provision for the young and disabled is not – our search has reinforced the uniqueness of Leith Waterworld’s offer.  As we say – “LWW shouldn’t be compared to other swimming pools - It’s not a swimming pool, it’s a play park with water.” 

I’m afraid there is a now an unfortunate gap in leisure pool provision in both Edinburgh Leisure’s portfolio, and in the North of Edinburgh.  
Until we reopen it, we will remain homeless and itinerant…

Final Report Card


Splashback is now moving into our next phase as we aim to pull together a community bid to reopen Leith Waterworld.  Instead of visiting other swimming pools on Sunday mornings, we will now be concentrating on reopening the local amenity.  Each Sunday, we will be running a planning workshop for all those interested in reopening Leith Waterworld, from 10am until 12noon, at Out of the Blue.  Creche will be available - please do join us... we need both expertise and energy!

Email us at splashbackedinburgh[at] or follow us on Facebook or Twitter @splashback

Still Haven't found What We're Looking For

Homeless Itinerant Bathing Society (Dublin/Memphis Branch)

We've searched high, we searched low... Since Leith Waterworld closed on January 8th this year, Splashback has taken up the City of Edinburgh Council's offer of alternative swimming options, visiting sites across the city in the guise of The Homeless Itinerant Bathing Society (Edinburgh Branch).  From north (Ainslie Park) to south (the RCP), from East (Porty) to west (Dalry) no stone has been left unturned as we searched for a suitable family venue to take our kids to... Having struggled to find something with equivalent fun factor to Leith Waterworld, we went further afield - beyond the city, and beyond Edinburgh Leisure's portfolio of pools.

Here's three more report cards, including
  • star pupil - Dunbar Leisure pool
  • Overseas pupil - Burnisland
  • and the eagerly awaited and costly refurbed (£36m!)  RCP, which we visited on April Fool's Day... the verdict?

"The wee wee pool - Kinda like swimming in an airport, lots of glakit passengers who seem as though they're waiting for something else...  The big pool - Good for 'grown-up' "proper" swimming - a jewel in someone else's crown."

RCP Report Card
  Burnstisland Dunbar Report Card

Saturday, 31 March 2012

On the record

Photo by Doug Briglmen
At the hustings on Thursday night Splashback asked all the candidates standing for Council in Leith Ward, whether they supported the reopening of Leith Waterworld.  Here's what they said:

Audio courtesy of Greener Leith

Friday, 30 March 2012

Losing it in Leith?

Last night was the Leith Ward hustings.  All six candidates standing for Council were in attendence, with most managing to not to lose the plot as they were asked questions from Leith voters, including Splashback.

Candidates for the three seats are as follows:
Chas Booth (Green)
Adam McVey (SNP)
Rob Munn (SNP)
Gordon Munro (Labour)
Nicola Ross (Con)
Marjorie Thomas (Lib-Dem)

Below is a collation of the tweets which we have compiled for all the Splashback supporters who couldn't make it - to let them know what happened.

A fuller response will be made next week...  Enjoy the sunshine: a good weekend to go swimming!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

All change for Leith?

Workers on Leith Walk construct the old tramline circa 1905

It's election time! and tomorrow night Leith Links Community Council  kicks off the hustings period for all the candidates standing for Council in the Leith Ward, at the Leith Community Centre, Kirkgate from 7pm - (further details here)

On the 22 December last year, we asked the Council to keep to their promise to keep Leith Waterworld open until the Commonwealth Pool opened (i.e. March), allowing them time to 'investigate all the options' which might allow LWW to stay open.  All parties, bar the Greens, voted for closure on 8 Jan.

On the 3 February, we again presented a deputation requesting that the sale be put on hold for six months to see if a community bid might be viable.  This time all parties (bar the Tories...) found it somewhat easier and more palatable to be positive, and so voted to delay the sale of Leith Waterworld.  Splashback's response was lukewarm - we were well aware that would mean a lot of hard work,  which for us as activists and volunteers means a lot of unpaid work, but our goal remained and remains to see Leith Waterworld reopen.

We argued that day, that we were not 'the' community, but just one element (albeit the only element who seemed to want to look deeper into whether closure was the only option).  The Council, Edinburgh Leisure, the social enterprise sector, other interested parties, us, and the wider community would all have to be engaged and required to pull together if a community bid is to be successful... We have been working so far to that end.  To date we have had no contact from the Council, and no concrete offers of support (a name (not even an email address!) of someone else to contact is not quite enough, is it?).  We are serious, are they?

Please do come tomorrow night and add your voice to the campaign to re-open Leith Waterworld.  We will be asking questions of all the parties, and hope that their responses might interest you.

I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that "eyeball to eyeball is best" as Ewan Aikten does - that's getting a little bit too intimate with our politicians - a straight answer will do!

Today's Evening News article - "Waterworld hot topic in May's poll'.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Go West

Last weeks Homeless Itinerant Bathing Society (Edinburgh branch) visit took us outside of Edinburgh (P.)Leisure's stable of pools to Wester Hailes Education Centre - a leisure pool run by, wait for it, City of Edinburgh Council! Crikey! Below is that report in full!:


And if you thought last week's destination was far out, then check this:

This Sunday (26th Feb) the Society - at least those spirited enough to travel over the County Line - will convene at the Dunbar Pool in East Lothian at 10.30 am!

It seems as though our appetite for leisure pool pursuits has been well and truly re-whetted!

New Members, as always,  welcome!

Friday, 17 February 2012

It ain't half hot, mum

Expectations were high prior to last week's Homeless Itinerant Bathing Society visit to Ainslie Park - at last a non Victorian pool - surely our municipalist forebears would not tolerate the draughts and cold blasts that our Victorian citizens positively revelled in?! Read on to find out...

This week, in line with the development of a community bid, the Society feels its time to look outwith the Edinburgh Leisure portfolio - we will be visiting Wester Hailes Education Centre, which is run by an independent body... 10.30 on Sunday morn as usual!
ainslie pk 2

Friday, 10 February 2012

Splashback Blues

children in Fort Street, Leith - 1957 from
“There should always be an element of protest in music, as much as it should be about celebrating the good things in life.”- Leith musician, Wounded Knee, gets into his groove, with the really rather fantastic 'Splashback Blues' - Cheers Drew!
'Splashback Blues' written and performed by Drew Wright AKA Wounded Knee. Assisted by Johnny Gailey. The "Oh dear me" refrain and the first two lines of the third verse are taken from the "Jute Mill Song" by Dundee poet and activist Mary Brooksbank. You can listen to Mary at Tobar an Dualchais:

From the West to the East

Oh dear me, indeed!

With all the excitement of having to go and present in front of the heidie and full staff last week, The Homeless Itinerant Bathing Society (Edinburgh branch) omitted to post Dalry's report card from our visit the weekend before.  Dalry might have thought she'd got away with it, and indeed preferred it that way - however I'm afraid the truth will always out... The full report card is as follows...


Meanwhile, the following weekend, a bumper turnout of the Society made the trip along the Forth to Portobello Baths.  This weekend, the Society is making the leap from the 1890's to the 1970's with a visit to the all-new Ainslie Park Leisure Centre! As usual, all welcome - photo at front at 10.30am on Sunday morning...  Porty's full report card is as follows:


Friday, 3 February 2012

a springboard?

Dear friends and supporters

Yesterday Splashback! handed in the petition with 6200 signatures to Lord Provost George Grubb, following our deputation in support of the Green's motion to delay the sale of Leith Waterworld for six months to allow a potential credible community bid to be developed.

The petition was addressed to the Council , and asked: 
We, the undersigned, are dismayed by the decision to close Leith Waterworld. We believe this would be a hammerblow to Leith, and to children, families and people with disabilities from across the whole of Edinburgh. We believe the £300,000 required to keep the pool open each year is an investment in the health and wellbeing, confidence and future of our community.

We demand the Council reviews the 2005 decision to close the unique facility and investigate all possible avenues for retaining the amenity and keeping the pool open for the Edinburgh public for the future.

The motion was carried with a minor amendment by the administration by 45 votes to 11.  Finally after two months of campaigning, here (in the pic) are the Councillors standing up for Leith, as they make their decision to support the possibility of a community bid.  NB the Big Society Tories sitting down in the top left!

Splashback is delighted that the pool has a reprieve for six months.  A community bid was never our first choice for the pool, but we believe it is one of the options that could safeguard the future of the pool for our community and city...

'Delay to Leith Waterworld a success but not a result' STV article

'Stay of execution for Waterworld' Edinburgh Evening News article

'Campaigners hope to break down 'brick wall' to save Leith Waterworld'  STV article

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Petition D-day

Green MSP for Lothian, Alison Johnstone, will support Splashback! campaigners tomorrow, Thursday 2 February, as they hand in the petition of over 6,200 signatures to the City of Edinburgh Council. 

The petition, which calls for the Council to “investigate all possible avenues for retaining the amenity and keeping the pool open for the Edinburgh public for the future”, demonstrates overwhelming public support for the campaign to save Leith Waterworld. Over 5,000 signatures were added in person outside Leith Waterworld before it closed on 8 January, with over 1,100 added online.

The pool might have closed on 8 January, but we continue to fight for its future as an amenity for Leith and the whole of Edinburgh. Though Councillors voted, on 22 December, to uphold the decision to close, we feel the demand made by the petition is still current, and ask Councillors to consider the options.

We are handing in the petition at the Full Council Meeting, where Green councillor Steve Burgess is tabling a motion to delay the sale of the Waterworld site (closing date 8 February) to allow the possibility of a community purchase.  

Splashback! supports this motion, and the possibility of having time for a credible community bid to develop. The campaign will be presenting a deputation at the Full Council Meeting saying so. There are 11 community-run swimming pools in Scotland; we believe every chance should be given to this potential outcome for the Leith Waterworld site.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Under the surface - intro

On the 23 December 2011, just after the deputation, and the vote in Full Council to bring the closing date forward to the 8th January we submitted three Freedom of Information requests to the City of Edinburgh Council.

Splashback has now received answers from the Council to our three requests, and in the spirit of openess we would like to share these with you... see below for 'Under the surface' - Parts I, II, III...

Under the surface - part 1

Think of this one like a swan - on top serene, whilst underneath frantically scrurrying away

In the Chamber on the 22 Dec Splashback requested that a proper Equalities Impact Assessment be carried out, as per the £9m funding agreement between Edinburgh Leisure and CEC, looking at the impact of closure on different user groups.  In the amendment to the Chamber, put forward by the SNP/Lib Dem administration, it was stated that "that a draft Equalities Impact Assessment had been submitted to the Council and was currently being assessed.'

So the next day we asked to see all correspondence between CEC and El regarding the EqIA, and here is what we received.

Some things we'd like to draw your attention to:

1. Unless we have been given incomplete information, the first mention in this financial year (eight months after the funding agreement was signed off) the 1st mention between EL and CEC was the day after we visited Councillor Brock (also Vice-Chair of EL )at her 7 Dec surgery to request the EqIA. (p1)

2. On the 8 Dec, the Chief Exec of EL is quoted (regarding the closure) as saying, "Given that it is clearly a done deal – it seems a futile too spend a lot of time on the EqIA." (p3)

3. The Head of Sport at CEC wrote on 15 Dec (7 days before the motion)"I have told them [the Splashback campaign group] that it wasn't required at the time when the decision was taken. However in discussing with Cllr Brock, she feels having an EqIA would be helpful at this point..." (p13)

4. An unnamed official notes, “I attended the Splashback public meeting last night with Cllr Brock. The meeting itself was very civilized” (p20) Thank you!

5. An unnamed EL staff member writes on the 19 Dec, “Got to say it is all too late for my liking... an EqIA needs to be built in, not bolted on (etc.etc.etc) (p23)

6. CEC Head of Sport writes on 19 Dec, “ I don't think that splashing around in LWW will actually have that much of a positive impact on health... kids maybe active but it is a leisure/fun pool and not necessarily increasing heart rats in the same way that doing 10 lengths of a traditional 25m pool would... " Ummm, FOI Reply Re EQIA

Under the surface - part II

Under the surface - part II:

Think of this one, like the Titanic - we know it's down there, but we can't get it out!

Much was made in the Chamber on the 22 Dec of the amount of subsidy required to keep Leith Waterworld open, the high staff costs and the high energy costs...

So the next day, we asked CEC for a full breakdown of these costs.  EL has refused us these on two occasions in the run-up to the motion. We presumed Councillors had sight of these, given the decision on the future of the pool was being taken by them... apparently not - "this information is not held by the Council".  We have still been unable to get a full breakdown of the operating costs from EL.

FOI Reply Re Operating Costs

Under the surface - part III

Under the surface - part III
Think of this like an iceberg - we can see some of whats there, but aren't sure what size it is underneath!

Following the decision to bring forward the closure of LWW on 22 Dec, our minds turned to what might be there if it was sold and no longer a leisure pool.

We asked to see “all correspondence between CEC and Tesco (or a party acting on Tesco’s behalf) regarding the Leith Waterworld site, either received or sent over the last year (1 December 2010 – 22 December 2010).  We were interested to receive the following response

In this instance, the Council is applying Commercial Interests and the Economy,Section 33 (1) (b) disclosure would (or would be likely to) prejudice substantially the commercial interests of any person or organisations.We believe that it would significantly harm and substantially prejudice the company concerned with regard to any future tenders they pursue"

Not a refusal on the basis that there isn't any correspondence but a refusal that it might prejudice commercial interests - We have, of course requested a review of this, citing public interest, which as the Scottish Information Commissioner notes, over-rides this exemption.

FOI Re Tescos

Friday, 27 January 2012

SOB story

The Homeless Itinerant Bathing Society (Edinburgh Branch) continues to gather apace.  This Sunday the Society will be marking our third week in existance with a brave foray across town to... Dalry Baths!  We have set the time at a later 10.30am to allow for members wrestling with the bus timetables and the potential lag as the bus negiotates this weeks route...

As always, all welcome!  Photo at the front at 10.30am...

Dalry Baths faced the axe from Edinburgh Leisure in 2010, but with a spirited campaign entitled SOB (Save our Baths) the local cmmunity gathered thousands of signatures in opposition and saved the pool!  Lots of useful info on their website.  Well done all!...

In an interesting footnote - the public petition was handed in by Labour MSP, Sarah Boyack.  The Council refused to accept it, instead pointing Ms Boyack to Edinburgh Leisure - amazingly Ms Boyack accepted this chicanery...

In the meantime here's Glenogle's report card from last week - full pdf is available here

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Homeless Itinerant Bathing Society (Edinburgh Branch) will this week, be visiting the recently refurbished Glenogle Baths in Stockbridge, which according to Edinburgh Leisure's website is "something of a rare breed - a hark back to Victorian baths, but with a modern twist."

Glenogle was the subject of a well supported community campaign, which put pressure on the Council to refurbish the baths as originally promised.  Whilst it came out that plans were being mooted the the pool could be 'redeveloped', the energy and commitment of the campaigners ensured that the baths were kept as a public amenity.  Following a £5.7 million refurbishment, the pool re-opened in July 2010.

The Homeless Itinerant Bathing Society (Edinburgh Branch) is open to everyone - just come along at 10am on Sunday 22 January morning for a photo at the frontdoor! The shy and latesleeping are welcome to join us after...