‘Homeless’ bathers to dive into swimming pool debate

Protesters from the Splashback campaign assemble in front of Leith Water World
Protesters from the Splashback campaign assemble in front of Leith Water World
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CAMPAIGNERS who battled against the closure of Leith Waterworld are planning to tour other pools en masse to inspect their facilities.

Waterworld closed its doors to the public on Sunday, but now the families who led the fight to keep it open have formed themselves into the Homeless Itinerant Bathing Society (Edinburgh).

Protesters will be touring city pools to see how they compare to the facilities at the now-closed Leith Waterworld

Protesters will be touring city pools to see how they compare to the facilities at the now-closed Leith Waterworld

From this weekend, campaign members will get together each Sunday to visit a pool to undertake a “swim inspection” before reporting their findings to the city council.

Among those on their list are Leith Victoria Swim Centre, Portobello Swim Centre and Ainslie Park Leisure Centre. The campaigners say they will record the time taken to travel to the other pools by car and bus, the temperature of the water, how many inflatables are available, the friendliness of staff and the disruption to other swimmers.

Johnny Gailey, of campaign group Splashback, said: “The council told us we could go to the Royal Commonwealth Pool, but, of course, it has not yet reopened and there is no official date for when it will. That means we’re homeless.

“All these other pools were being offered to us as alternatives, so we decided we would take a look and we will report back to the council.

“What we will find is the feasibility of the alternatives. We know the pools will be colder, and it will be disruptive for other swimmers if there are lots of kids.”

He added: “We are not doing it to wind people up, we are doing it because we want to keep swimming.”

A bid by Green councillor Alison Johnstone to give Leith Waterworld a reprieve until the Commonwealth Pool reopens – as had been promised when the original closure decision was made – was rejected by the council last month. Edinburgh Leisure’s website says the “Commie” pool will reopen in “spring 2012”.

The renovation programme includes a new 25-metre teaching pool, an improved 50-metre pool, and a new 25-metre diving pool. But the Splashback group says it will not replace the facilities at Waterworld.

The decision to close Waterworld was taken by the previous council administration in 2005 as part of the plan to fund refurbishment of the Commonwealth Pool.

A council spokesman said there was no confirmed date for reopening the Commie pool.