Swimmers left high and dry as Leith Waterworld closure bites

ALMOST three-quarters of Leith residents are swimming less regularly following the closure of Leith Waterworld, a survey has found.

Campaigners fighting to re- open the pool carried out a survey of more than 800 people in the area and found that 74 per cent of respondents were swimming less regularly since the pool’s closure.

The Splashback group was further boosted, with 92 per cent saying they would prefer to use a reopened Leith Waterworld than an alternative Edinburgh pool.

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The findings will give the Splashback group a boost as they mount a bid to buy the pool so it can be returned to the local community.

The Splashback campaign was set up last year to fight the closure of Waterworld, but despite its efforts the council closed the pool in January after it ran up a loss of £340,000 in the last year it was open.

The group’s initial bid was rejected, but the campaign was given until the end of January, the deadline for the re-marketing of the property, to produce a more detailed proposal.

Splashback has now been granted a budget of up to £5000 by the council’s economic development committee to aid them in gathering the relevant information.

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Edinburgh City Council also said that they could not afford the subsidy of £743,842 over the next three years suggested by the group. The figure is now being revised.

A council spokesman said: “Councillors agreed in September to give further support to the Splashback community bid in their efforts to submit a business plan that was commercially acceptable and demonstrated best value.”

Campaigner Johnny Gailey said: “We’ve been meeting with Economic Development Officers weekly since then as we refine our plan for the business plan, as well as working with external experts Community Enterprise Ltd. The £5000 would be used to bring in external expertise.”

He added: “An external consultant recently looked over the site and confirmed that the machinery has been kept well - it’s by no means a wreck, it’s still in very good nick.

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“This is the only pool in north Edinburgh that really caters to young children learning to swim, and also allows disabled people to enter and leave the pool in a dignified fashion. Surely this makes it worth saving.”

Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith said: “The hard work and dedication that so many volunteers have put into reopening a much-loved pool has been inspiring. I hope that by their second birthday they can celebrate the pool’s reopening as a community-run venture.”

Splashback will be holding a first anniversary party on December 2 from 10:30am to 1pm at Out of the Blue Drill Hall, Dalmeny Street.