Leith Waterworld cash means free swimming lessons

The sale of Leith Waterworld unlocked some cash for free swimming. Picture: Andrew Stuart
The sale of Leith Waterworld unlocked some cash for free swimming. Picture: Andrew Stuart
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FREE swimming classes will be offered to deprived children through cash unlocked from the controversial sale of Leith Waterworld.

From Saturday, primary school children will be able to dive into four city pools for free as part of an affordable swimming project ­running throughout the ­holidays until April 2015.

Swimming lessons will also be provided for disadvantaged pupils across 18 schools – those where more than 40 per cent of ­students receive free lunches – while female-only swim sessions will be extended across the Capital. But critics have been branded the news a “fig-leaf” masking a betrayal of Leith ­Waterworld campaigners Splashback who won support to transform the loss-making swimming pool into a community pool but saw the Capital Coalition backpedal on their pledge following a £1 million bid by A&G Property Group. Today, Splashback’s Ida Maspero said the measures failed to “make up for the loss” of Leith Waterworld.

She said: “Having fought hard to ringfence the £125k of council funding which was earmarked for the feasibility phase of a community-led Waterworld, we worked with councillors to ensure this money was put to good use and design a package of free swimming initiatives that we hoped and trusted would be extended in the future.”

Cllr Chas Booth, Culture and Sport spokesman for Edinburgh Greens, agreed. He said: “This is a fig-leaf to hide the council’s embarrassment at having betrayed a community group and the thousands of disabled people and children that would have used the pool.”

But Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s Culture and Sport Convener, said he believes the plan builds on what Splashback proposed and goes “even further” to ensure children city-wide benefit. He said it will target people who need “support the most”.