HOPES of reopening Leith Waterworld have been dealt a blow after city council officials recommended rejecting the community bid to take over the pool – saying it should be put back on the market instead.
Campaign group Splashback is “concerned” with the view – which has been branded narrow in its focus – especially given the fact roughly 16,000 children cannot swim by the time they leave Edinburgh’s primary schools.
The group wants to make waves by turning the pool into a community hub, remodelling the entrance and creating a new three-tier soft play area, a party room for hire and a cafe. It said longer opening hours and the new facilities would help reduce the subsidy needed to run the venue from the previous £340,000 a year to just under £20,000 a year after three years.
A report by officials, due to be considered by councillors next week, said the Splashback proposal was not commercially viable and did not offer best value. It claimed the proposals would “place a significant financial burden and risk on the council”.
But the Labour-SNP administration – which has declared its ambition of creating a “co-operative council”, involving local people in the running of services – will be under pressure to take a more favourable view.
Splashback’s Johnny Gailey said: “We are concerned officials have misunderstood some of the costs, despite working with us for four months.
“We consider our proposal is the only realistic solution.”
The report said plans for volunteers to help supervise the pool carried “a significant risk” but Splashback insisted they would be in addition to a full staff.
Leith Green councillor Chas Booth said: “This narrowly-focused report does not do justice to the huge community, health and social benefits which a revitalised Leith Waterworld will bring.”
The administration did not indicate how it planned to react to the report.
LEITH Waterworld opened in May 1992 on the site of the former Leith Central Station.
The decision to close and sell the pool was taken in 2005. Splashback campaigned vigorously to keep the pool open, but it shut in January 2012.
The following month the council put off the sale deadline so a community bid could be put together.
Splashback’s initial bid was rejected in September 2012, but the council agreed to help them submit a new bid by January 2013.
The full council will decide on Thursday whether or not to accept the proposals.