Campaigners fight for pool earmarked for January closure

Leith Waterworld currently the city's only pool with flumes and wave machines

Leith Waterworld currently the city's only pool with flumes and wave machines

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A CAMPAIGN has been launched to save Leith Waterworld – as pool bosses confirmed their plans to close the facility in January.

Campaigners who set up the Splashback group were today holding their first meeting to formalise an action plan to try to keep the popular swimming pool open.

However, Edinburgh Leisure confirmed to the News it will close the facility on January 8, leaving campaigners with just over two months to fight the plans.

The Easter Road site, which is currently on the market, is being sold off as part of the £37 million redevelopment of the Royal Commonwealth Pool (RCP).

It was originally due to close when the refurbished RCP opens in spring.

Leith resident and one of the Splashback campaign founders, Johnny Gailey, believes the decision to close the Waterworld facility is outdated and needs to be revisited.

He said: “We want to look at the rationale for closure.

“The decision was taken in 2005 as part of a package to do with Meadowbank and the Commonwealth Pool upgrade.

“That was seven years ago.

“When we are speaking to people about this, they are hearing this news for the first time.”

City councillors agreed earlier this year to use some of the money from the sale of the facility, which is the Capital’s only leisure pool with flumes and wave machines, to fund “child-friendly” improvements at Leith Victoria Swim Centre.

This agreement was reached, however, only on the proviso that the sale of Leith Waterworld generates more than the £1m they estimated it was worth in 2009.

Mr Gailey, whose two young children regularly use the facility, believes that closing the pool would be a great loss, not just to the Leith community, but to the whole city.

He said: “Edinburgh Leisure says it is subsidising operating costs and is losing money, but we see it as investing in the Leith community.

“If we take this away from the Leith community, what are we left with?

“Edinburgh Leisure’s argument is that we can use the Commonwealth Pool but what will be on offer there is completely different.

“Leith Waterworld is not just for the people of Leith, but for the whole of Edinburgh.”

Graeme Gardiner, Edinburgh Leisure’s director of operations, said: “Leith Waterworld will close to customers on January 8. We would like to thank all of our customers for their loyalty over the years and look forward to welcoming them through the doors of any of our alternative venues across the city.

“In addition, we are looking forward to the re-opening of the Royal Commonwealth Pool next spring which will host a vast range of facilities for children and young families.”

It is not yet known what will happen to the Leith Waterworld site, although potential uses include a new leisure facility, shops or housing.