We need decent length of time to raise £1m to buy Waterworld

Protesters failed to stop Waterworld closing, but hope remains it can be saved
Protesters failed to stop Waterworld closing, but hope remains it can be saved
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CAMPAIGNERS are asking for a delay to the sale of Leith Waterworld to allow a community bid to come forward to take over the leisure pool.

A motion tabled by Green councillors for next week’s full council meeting calls for the February 8 closing date for offers for the pool to be extended by up to six months.

Council chiefs hope to raise more than £1 million from the sale and use the cash to help pay for the revamp of the Royal Commonwealth Pool.

Green environment spokesman Steve Burgess said selling it to a community group would mean the council got the cash, and Waterworld would survive.

Councillors voted before Christmas to close Waterworld, which the council says needs an annual subsidy of £400,000 to run, and it shut on January 8.

Cllr Burgess said: “While it’s still standing, there is still the possibility it could be reopened as a pool. It could be run by a community organisation. There are quite a few examples around Scotland of communities operating leisure pools.”

He said there was not so far a group with a plan to run Waterworld, but he said: “There have been expressions of interest with the community about that happening.”

Johnny Gailey of campaign group Splashback welcomed the Greens’ motion. He said: “The campaign aim is to save Leith Waterworld and we welcome looking at all options.”

Meanwhile, Splashback says it has been unable to obtain a full breakdown of Waterworld’s operating costs. Requests to Edinburgh Leisure were refused and the council said it did not hold the information.

Mr Gailey said the costs had to be released to allow a community bid to be developed. He said: “Edinburgh Leisure told us they would release the figures if there was a credible community bid, but there can’t be until they release the figures.”

Cllr Burgess said: “The key thing is enough time would have to be allowed for a community bid to come forward.”

The Greens’ motion also calls for the offers for Waterworld to be referred to the council’s policy and strategy committee, rather than the finance committee, to ensure the community benefit of the sale is maximised.

Cllr Burgess added: “There is a concern that the focus has been on just selling the pool to finance the Commonwealth pool.

“This is a fantastic facility, particularly suited to people with disabilities and children. It is unthinkable it’s going to be demolished.”

A council spokeswoman said the closing date was fixed at February 8, but campaigners had been advised that a community bid could be submitted now, on a “subject to funding” basis.