Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Water under the bridge

 This time last year, in January 2012, the doors to Leith Waterworld were locked and the pool drained as the facility was officially closed.  One year on, January 2013, and (excuse me) a lot of water under the bridge and Splashback are pleased to announce that we have submitted a bold plan to the Council to reopen the  facility under community management.  

Supporters will be aware that we submitted a bid to take over the facility as a community run leisure pool, when the closing date for the site was originally set for 7 August last year.  In September, the Council met to discuss the offers for the site, which in fact amounted to one - ours.  Whilst the councillors rejected the bid on the basis that it was 'commercially unacceptable' they saw the merit in pursuing our idea, and offered us a further four months to revise the bid, with the additional support and resources of the council.  Our deadline for resubmission was 31 January. 

Well,  yesterday, after a lot of hard work and number crunching, we re-submitted our revised plan, a whole 9 days ahead of schedule! So what does the plan suggest? We have attached an executive summary below with our key points, highlighting both the social case for reopening and the financial case.  We now believe we have got a solid case for reopening, but then we would say that!  In fact our figures and assumptions have been tested through independent analysis. We have been able to engage both pool specialists and community enterprise experts to flesh out our ideas.  We have got comparative costs for facilities in Scotland and the Council officials themselves have provided us with an assessment of the economic impact of reopening the facility.

Through running the facility as a community led iniatitive, we believe we can 
  • provide a fun and enjoyable leisure destination for over 150,000 users per annum
  • reduce the subsidy required from Council for the pool to well under the Scottish average for pools - £260,000
  • In fact through increased soft play and additional revenue streams, we can bring the subsidy right down to circa £20,000 by year 3
  • In doing so we would bring potentially approx 60 jobs to the Leith area through direct employment and supply chains
  • and generate an additional £460,000 for the local Leith economy.
  • These benefits are in addition to the potential saving to public spending through increased wellbeing in the area.  
We will be asking the Council on 31st January for an agreement in principle, to allow us to progress with more detailed planning and fundraising.  At the end of six months, we would take the shared decision with the Council whether to progress to reopening, which is currently rescheduled for October 2013.

At various points during the last four months we have, out of necessity, been inside Waterworld.  Whilst outside the building looks dilapidated, inside it is clear that we have a substantial, well-loved and importantly well-maintained asset.  We want the best for Leith.  Waterworld cost £14m twenty years ago, and  to rebuild it now would be well over £20m.

With the massive success of the Olympics and the Paralympics last year and the Commonwealth Games next year, there is much talk, at the moment, of 'legacy'.  There appears to be a growing awareness and understanding that yes whilst these elite events can provide an amazing spectacle, more than that participation and sport can make a real difference at community level. Dundee Council are currently building a new leisure pool at the cost of £31m, as are Perth at the cost of £15m.  Edinburgh has had no leisure pool for over a year.  We hope that the Council after reading our business plan, share with us, the desire to rectify that and reopen Leith Waterworld.

Please do email your local councillor if you too share our aim to reopen Waterworld.

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