Wednesday, 22 May 2013
Splashback, the campaign to re-open the closed leisure pool, Leith Waterworld, this evening responds to news that the City of Edinburgh Council is considering another bid for the site (as reported today on the STV Edinburgh news website...
Campaigners said: "We were delighted when, on 31 January this year, the city's Councillors overwhelmingly voted to work with Splashback and to establish a working group to develop the business plan for a community-run Leith Waterworld. This reflected the administration's desire to work cooperatively with the citizens of Edinburgh, as set out in the Capital Coalition agreement. Over the last three and a half months, we have worked with Councillors and officials in good faith, and while there remains much still to do, we have made significant progress, including developing a fundraising plan and applying for charitable status."
The development of Leith Waterworld as a community-led social enterprise would support the first two partnership commitments of the coalition, namely 'ensuring every child in Edinburgh has the best start in life' and 'reducing poverty, inequality and deprivation'. The coalition agreement acknowledged the breakdown in trust between the residents of Edinburgh and their elected representatives, and that the city will be able to judge the Council against the promises it makes in the agreement.
"Splashback understands that this new bid leaves Councillors with a decision to make at next week's Full Council meeting - whether to continue working with us to achieve a revitalised LWW, or to pursue the new bid. However, we have faith in the letter and the spirit of the amendment carried on 31 January, and believe that the conviction displayed by Councillors on that day will guide their decision. We look forward to continuing to work with the Council to deliver on the commitments they made in January."
Posted by Johnny at 22:39
The inspirational 'Get In' campaign... The brilliant Young Ambassadors from Save the Children calling out the barriers that young people face in accessing leisure opportunities - poverty, inequality - and the ensuing effects of exclusion - stress, poor mental health, isolation - and the possibilities for change.
These young campaigners are an inspiration to us... Thanks
These young campaigners are an inspiration to us... Thanks
Posted by Johnny at 11:01
Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Yesterday, the national agency, Scottish Swimming launched a new six week campaign, aimed at raising awareness of the health benefits of swimming.
‘You Can Swim’ is a motivational campaign for adults to raise awareness of the benefits of swimming, and to support pools offering opportunities to adults to learn to swim or develop their swimming ability.
Swimming is the sport for all – the sport for life. Everyone can learn to swim regardless of age, ability, gender, social class or background provided they have the right opportunities to do so, however, it is recognised that there needs to be more incentive and inspiration for adults to participate in any form of aquatic activity.
This comes hot on the heels of last weeks launch of 'Start to Swim', a two year £60k programme (£50k from company Scottish Salmon, £10k from Sport Scotland) launched at everybody's favourite kiddies pool - the Royal Commonwealth Pool by the Children and Young People Minister Aileen Campbell. Ms Campbell at the launch, said - “Swimming is a wonderful experience for parents and children to share. It is fun and helps keep us active and can give children basic water skills and build confidence"
Start to Swim is part of Scottish Swimming’s participation programme ‘Just Add Water’ which "aims to get people of all ages swimming for health, fitness and fun".
Phew! So three campaigns and it's clear that we got a problem (namely not enough people are swimming), and for clarity, it's great that the national agency is doing what it can through a range of campaigns to raise awareness of the benefits of swimming. The Commonwealth Games is focusing a few minds on the future and 'legacy'. A third of children in Scotland leave primary school unable to swim. And from our reading of figures it would appear that around only 1 in 8 kids in Edinburgh are regularly swimming... So whats the solution?
Now Ms Campbell may remember me - the week the Councillors were set to take the vote in the last administration, on whether to close Waterworld, I heard that she was in town, launching an early years programme at the Fort. I cycled down, arrived unannounced and waited for 40 minutes in the rain whilst the Minister had her photo taken inside. When the minster came out, I asked for two minutes and explained what was about to happen in Leith - the self same place chosen to launch a scheme to support parents at risk of isolation, deprivation and stress - that the sole pool in the area that specifically catered for toddlers and the disabled was going to be shut, with all the attendant impacts. To be fair she listened, look concerned and said she would do what she could.
As we know, the Councillors voted to close Waterworld that week.
It is our contention, and always has been that first and foremost we need to have adequate and affordable facilities that cater for ALL sections of our community. This way we can try to stem what we think is an alarming decline in swimming, for the future. That that is the first priority... and then we can provide the additional resources to encourage those who are not making the most of current facilities...
In another recent encounter with a influential politician, I met Dr Bridget McConnell, Head of Glasgow Life, at a conference on Article 31 - the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. Article 31, often dubbed the forgotten article, ensures that “States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities…" . Dr McConnell spoke passionately about the right of children to play, and what Glasgow City Council were doing to ensure that in action, not just in words. In conversation after she alerted me to, and provided, a fantastic academic study, which she credited as changing the way that her organization thought about pools. As a direct result of reading the study, Glasgow Life adopted a policy of offering free swimming to all under 18's across the city of Glasgow.
In the study (uploaded below) it is clear that for officials "the swimming pool was reported as important amenity which was linked to health and wellbeing. However, few residents reported regular use of the pool for physical activity. Use of the pool facility for social contact was directly linked to reports of relief of stress and isolation, and improved mental health." For the actual users of the pool, the benefits went way beyond physical activity - instead they valued the role the amenity provides as a community hub, building and strengthening family & community links and friendships which, in the long run, made their lives easier to live....
That's whats on the table here, not just whether wee johnnie can swim a width.
Posted by Johnny at 13:30
Friday, 10 May 2013
Well they say Rome wasn't built in a day... Well, don't tell anyone, but I think I know why... !
Its been three months since the decision was taken in Chamber that the City of Edinburgh Council would work in partnership with us, on the feasibility of the business case we submitted for their consideration. Whilst we believe that our figures stacked up, there was no doubt that we had to test some of our assumptions and undertake some development of our ideas and plans. However what really swung it that day in Chamber was that finally the Councillors realised the social case for a leisure pool - both for those living locally in Leith, but also for children and disabled people who were ill-served by other pools and who loved the flumes, chutes and the opportunity to spend some good fun quality family time together.
"We own it to the community to give this a go" and "We could do something special here" were just two sentences spoken by Councillors that day as they debated whether to take the leap of faith. We glad that they did, and have since set out to work with us in co-operation. There is no doubt that this process is quite new for us and them, and throughout the three months we have been feeling our way through a process, which to be fair is a wee bit slower than our normal speed of operating, as campaigners.
That said we have made a massive amount of progress together. We have established a working group of Councillors, Splashback and officials to take the work forward. We are meeting fortnightly (at 8am to allow us to fit it in with our work and family commitments!) to discuss how we progress our vision of a community led venture, providing a hub of activity at the foot of Leith Walk.
- Devised a structure that allows us to work on the various workstreams we need to develop: legal and governance, fiance, fundraising, marketing, pool operations, 'dry' operations and site development.
- Applied to become a SCIO (Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation), who will take on the feasibility phase and hopefully the running of the facility
- Engaged with a broad range of experts - from engineers, design companies, voluntary organisations, community sports companies - to discuss ideas and possibilities.
- Compiled a fundraising plan and are actively speaking to funders whose aims and values match ours.
- Applied for a development grant to engage a dedicated Development Manager/s, who will assist us as we build capacity within the organisation
- Developed a brief and are tendering for design and engineering works, scoping out what is possible and associated costs
- Continued to meet weekly as a campaign group to discuss our progress.
So apologies for the radio silence on the blog as of late... Co-operation takes time! But, as we know Rome wasn't built in a day.
But boy, did it look good once they got there!!
Please do keep in touch, via the blog and our more regularly updated Twitter feed... More coming soon...
Posted by Johnny at 15:42
Monday, 4 February 2013
|Cartoon courtesy of Frank Boyle, (published in Evening News, Fri 1 Feb 2013)|
Dear Friends and supporters
Many of you will know, but great news! Last Thursday the City of Edinburgh Council agreed to work with us over the next 11 months to secure a future for Leith Waterworld. Obviously we are all elated - to get this far has been a huge amount of work, but we always believed that if we could articulate what Waterworld uniquely offered children, familes and the disabled across the city, AND show the depth of community support then we could get the Councillors on board.
Listening to the Councillors in the Chamber last Thursday, we were delighted to hear that the pressing social case for reopening the pool is now recognised and that the 'value' of the amenity is understood as not just being the cost of keeping the facility open, but also all the benefits that reopening brings to the community - i.e. it's true 'value'.
We knew that it was going to be a difficult decision for councillors to reject the officials report(which recommended rejecting our bid), but we believe it is the right decision. Now that the Councillors have endorsed our business plan, we can sit down with them and the officials, all with the same shared goal - how to reopen leith Waterworld. It has been a lot of hard work to get this far, and we know that there is a lot more hard work before we can reopen the facility - we need additional skills in governance, fundraising, pool operation and maintenance, engineering, heating, green energy, catering, etc.. - but now that we have this endorsement we can know gather the skills we need and work co-operatively to bring this fantastic facility back to life.
We're truly appreciative of all the support the campaign has had over the past 14 months - from people willing to get involved, to emails and messages of support from the community, from various agencies and local businesses to councillors advocating on our behalf... In fact, these are not just supporters OF the campaign - they ARE the campaign... In the Chamber last week, Leith councillor, Gordon Munro, said "We can do something special here..." We truly believe that...
Lots more to follow, but for now: You can listen to the deputation and the debate here, via the Council's webcast - drop down the timeline on right to 9.45 for start of deputation)
Here's the news as reported in Fridays Evening News and on STV
And below is a compilation of the action live, as it unfolded in the Chamber, from Twitter...
Posted by Johnny at 12:18
Wednesday, 23 January 2013
This time last year, in January 2012, the doors to Leith Waterworld were locked and the pool drained as the facility was officially closed. One year on, January 2013, and (excuse me) a lot of water under the bridge and Splashback are pleased to announce that we have submitted a bold plan to the Council to reopen the facility under community management.
Supporters will be aware that we submitted a bid to take over the facility as a community run leisure pool, when the closing date for the site was originally set for 7 August last year. In September, the Council met to discuss the offers for the site, which in fact amounted to one - ours. Whilst the councillors rejected the bid on the basis that it was 'commercially unacceptable' they saw the merit in pursuing our idea, and offered us a further four months to revise the bid, with the additional support and resources of the council. Our deadline for resubmission was 31 January.
Well, yesterday, after a lot of hard work and number crunching, we re-submitted our revised plan, a whole 9 days ahead of schedule! So what does the plan suggest? We have attached an executive summary below with our key points, highlighting both the social case for reopening and the financial case. We now believe we have got a solid case for reopening, but then we would say that! In fact our figures and assumptions have been tested through independent analysis. We have been able to engage both pool specialists and community enterprise experts to flesh out our ideas. We have got comparative costs for facilities in Scotland and the Council officials themselves have provided us with an assessment of the economic impact of reopening the facility.
Through running the facility as a community led iniatitive, we believe we can
- provide a fun and enjoyable leisure destination for over 150,000 users per annum
- reduce the subsidy required from Council for the pool to well under the Scottish average for pools - £260,000
- In fact through increased soft play and additional revenue streams, we can bring the subsidy right down to circa £20,000 by year 3
- In doing so we would bring potentially approx 60 jobs to the Leith area through direct employment and supply chains
- and generate an additional £460,000 for the local Leith economy.
- These benefits are in addition to the potential saving to public spending through increased wellbeing in the area.
At various points during the last four months we have, out of necessity, been inside Waterworld. Whilst outside the building looks dilapidated, inside it is clear that we have a substantial, well-loved and importantly well-maintained asset. We want the best for Leith. Waterworld cost £14m twenty years ago, and to rebuild it now would be well over £20m.
With the massive success of the Olympics and the Paralympics last year and the Commonwealth Games next year, there is much talk, at the moment, of 'legacy'. There appears to be a growing awareness and understanding that yes whilst these elite events can provide an amazing spectacle, more than that participation and sport can make a real difference at community level. Dundee Council are currently building a new leisure pool at the cost of £31m, as are Perth at the cost of £15m. Edinburgh has had no leisure pool for over a year. We hope that the Council after reading our business plan, share with us, the desire to rectify that and reopen Leith Waterworld.
Please do email your local councillor if you too share our aim to reopen Waterworld.
Posted by Johnny at 12:23
Monday, 3 December 2012
This weekend, Splashback held our first birthday party! A bouncy castle, drawing activities, a campaign update, architect's drawings, the launch of the 'Splashback' wristband, a singalong and a cake!!
Over seventy supporters dropped by to catch up with our progress, as we work towards resubmitting our bid at the end of January 2013 - great to see both old and new faces there!!
For those who couldn't make it - here's a wee slideshow we presented with the highlights of the campaign's first year!!
Posted by Johnny at 10:12