Irvine Welsh urges council not to close book on Waterworld

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IT is built on the site that is said to have inspired the title of his most famous work.

And while Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh may not find as much inspiration in the swimming pool that replaced Leith Central Station, he has nonetheless joined the campaign to ensure its survival.

Protestors have made their presence felt

Protestors have made their presence felt

Welsh is backing calls to save Leith Waterworld, which council chiefs say they can no longer afford to run. The pool – the only one in the Capital with flumes and wave machines – is due to close on January 8.

Tomorrow a deputation from campaign group Splashback will put the case for a rethink to a full meeting of the city council, backed by a 5000-strong petition.

Today Welsh said: “Leith Waterworld is a great resource for the local community. I’d be gutted to see yet another thing that people enjoy taken away.”

The title of Trainspotting is said to have come from scenes in the book set around the derelict station, which became a haven for drug addicts.

It was eventually demolished to make way for the pool and supermarket development.

Other high-profile backers of the campaign include the Proclaimers, playwright David Greig and Big Brother star John Loughton.

Craig and Charlie Reid said it would be “a major blow” if Leith Waterworld was to close and said they fully supported the campaign.

Leading playwright and theatre director David Greig, who lives in Leith, also spoke out in support.

He said: “I’ve been taking my kids to Leith Waterworld since they were babies.

“They’re teenagers now. We all love going because we enjoy the flumes and the features, but we also love the atmosphere.

“Leith Waterworld’s a lifesaver for parents with energetic kids. It shows a very poor sense of priorities on the part of the council to cut a facility that promotes health, fitness, family bonding and fun.”

Loughton said it was “ridiculous” that Waterworld was facing closure. He said: “I have amazing memories going swimming as a kid on a Saturday with my friends.

“Waterworld is more than just a swimming pool, it’s a lifeline to young people and families in the local communities who already have so few things to do.”

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

Campaigners claim times have changed and the plan should be reconsidered. They argue land values have fallen, putting a question mark over the £1 million the council expected to receive.

Johnny Gailey, of Splashback, said: “We believe the cost of operating Leith Waterworld is not a loss but an investment in Leith, and young children, families and disabled people.”

Deidre Brock, the city council’s culture and leisure convener, said without the sale of Waterworld and the operational savings made, the council faced a shortfall of more than £5.5m for the costs of refurbishing the Royal Commonwealth Pool.

She said: “Leith Waterworld requires an annual subsidy on average of £400,000 to keep going and a further £2m would need to be found for maintenance costs over the next two years. The reality is that this kind of facility is extremely expensive and complex to run.”