Fuming, not fluming, as Leith Waterworld is shut

Campaigners fighting to save Waterworld staged some colourful demonstrations
Campaigners fighting to save Waterworld staged some colourful demonstrations
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Families who want to take their children to a pool with flumes will have to embark on a 62-mile round trip to Dunbar from January, after city leaders refused to stop the closure of Leith Waterworld.

The leisure pool – the only one of its kind in the Capital – will close its doors for the last time on January 8 after a campaign that had attracted more than 5000 supporters, including Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, failed to convince councillors to save it.

It will close more than two months before the re-opening of the Royal Commonwealth Pool (RCP), though the council pledged in 2007 that it would be retained until the RCP’s £37 million revamp was finished.

City chiefs said that the closing date had to be before the RCP re-opens in order to allow the Leith Waterworld staff to be retrained to work there and to minimise the likelihood of redundancies.

Green councillor Alison Johnstone, who had campaigned for the pool to be saved but faced claims from rivals of lodging a full council motion to save the centre as “a cynical attempt to exploit” users, said: “This is not about party politics. Our job as councillors is to represent the community and had this motion not been brought today they would not have been heard.

“It is not false hope when there is hope, and I’m sorry that the administration is not willing to give some hope and a couple of months to look at this.

“To demolish this pool is nothing but wasteful, and for what? It is a unique facility and people would have to travel to Dunbar to experience something similar.”

Campaigners had criticised the council and Edinburgh Leisure, which manages the facility, for not carrying out a full consultation on the closure of the pool.

Johnny Gailey, a father-of-two from Lochend, who fronted the Splashback campaign to save the pool, said the decision will be a “hammer blow” to the local community.

He added: “Our campaign has demonstrated how much-loved this facility is by the people of Leith and, indeed, the people of Edinburgh.

“It is not a swimming pool, it encourages confidence in the water. It’s a play park with water.”

In a statement following the decision, the Splashback campaign said: “We are very disappointed and astonished that the council have not been able to meet their commitment to the people of Edinburgh to keep Leith Waterworld open until the Royal Commonwealth Pool is fully reopened to the public.

“We are extremely concerned that the administration have not followed due process, particularly in relation to fostering equality in the city.”

The pool requires more staff than the average swimming pool, which makes it expensive to operate, and it has to receive an annual subsidy of around £400,000.

Keeping it open would have also led to a £5.6 million gap in the funding package for the RCP project.

Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie said: “If you have 5500 signatures and if it is such a wonderful facility why are people not using it?”