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