Save Leith Waterworld – We Have 40 Days To Reverse An Outrage

It has come as a shock to the local community that Leith Waterworld is set to close its doors for good on Monday 8th January.  This shabby outrageous decision was being kept hidden from the local community but leaked out this week and has now been confirmed.

No one can deny that Leith Waterworld is a much-loved community asset.  Kids adore it, it’s always busy, and it’s the only swimming pool in Edinburgh with flumes to play on. Although the pool is only be open three days a week in term time (the Council have been trying to run it down and close it for years) on the days it is open, come rain or shine, there are long queues of folk waiting to get in.

Leithers cannot believe such a callous anti-social decision has been taken behind their backs.  The justification given – that the Commonwealth Pool will be a viable alternative when it re-opens next year – simply defies belief. The Commie pool is miles away from Leith.  Parents and kids need a facility they can get to easily.  If Leith Waterworld closes many folk may no longer go swimming.

The only other pool in the area, Victoria Baths, will have incredible pressure put on its limited space and resources which will be entirely detrimental, especially to the many adult swimmers and pensioners who use it regularly.  What sort of message is this to send out when regular exercise, such as swimming, is considered a must for lifelong health?

The running costs at Leith Waterworld are not astronomical. There is an annual £300,000 deficit.  This is peanuts compared with the £1 BILLION being squandered on the universally-despised trams – which is now little more than a Council vanity project, a glorified single-route airport bus, made even more absurd when there’s a perfectly good airport bus already operating.

This disgusting attack on the community of Leith is yet another stupid decision taken by those in charge of Edinburgh.  Make no mistake people are absolutely livid about this and the decision will be fought tooth and nail.

Time is against us but already, on St Andrew’s Day, 25 local kids (and 50 adults too) met at Out of the Blue to launch SPLASHBACK! – a community campaign to keep the pool open.

Some artistically minded folk at SPLASHBACK! have already built a battle SUB (Swimming Utility Bus) and have begun campaigning and petitioning outside Leith Waterworld.

The first campaign meeting of SPLASHBACK! is this Monday 5th December, 6-8pm, at Duncan Place Resource Centre, 4 Duncan Place, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 8HW.  All welcome.

The campaign website is up and running at  Splashback!  Updates on Twitter can be followed at @splashback   If you live in Leith, or want to help in the campaign, it’s definitely worth adding your email address to on the website.

Kids in Leith deserve much better than having their swimming pool stolen away from them by uncaring, spineless councillors. This is one cut too far.  Every councillor, MP, and MSP in the surrounding Leith area (and the Council itself) needs to be lobbied intensively as a priority.  And reminded too that Council elections are looming on the horizon in May…

Many imaginative campaigning ideas have already been proposed which will be discussed on Monday.  All options are being kept open and new ideas are welcome.

Resistance is not futile.

Kevin Williamson (parent of two wee kids who love Leith Waterworld and have a lot of fun there)

Comments (16)

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  1. jacquie Johnstone says:

    I know how people feel I felt same way many years ago when the shut the open air pool at Portobello, I spent wonderful summers there yes in all weathers.
    Good luck in the capaign.

  2. dcomerf says:

    I’m disgusted about this too. But I don’t think you should bring the trams into it. My thoughts on the trams are discussed at which is partially pasted below:

    The first was the constant repetition that the costs of the St Andrews Square option would be more than £1B because interest payments are added to the contracted costs. This ignores the fact that the costs of cancellation cannot be met with borrowing because there is no asset against which to secure any new borrowing. Reporting it in this was is effectively saying that the ability to borrow is a disadvantage – a cost that should be reported. The huge difficulties that would be caused by not being able to borrow to meet the cancellation costs are just glossed over. It’s also inconsistent with how any purchase is normally reported: nobody claims that their house costs double what it actually cost just because they had to take a mortgage out and they are including all the interest payments on the mortgage.

    The other badly reported aspect was allowing the sunk cost fallacy to be willfully misrepresented. The sunk cost fallacy describes the situation where you have a project with, say, projected benefits of £40M and projected costs of £35M. The project goes ahead on this basis but when £10M has been spent, the remaining costs are reassessed as now being £45M (i.e. £55M total cost). The rational calculation to do at this point is to compare the value of doing nothing (costs to pay = 0, benefits received = 0, i.e. value = 0) against the value of proceeding (costs to pay = £45M, benefits received = £40M, i.e. value = -£5M) and so decide to cancel the project without taking the £10M already spent into consideration. However, those promoting the sunk cost fallacy as being a reason to cancel the trams were only mentioned the bit about not thinking we have to get something for the money already spent.

    A very conservative calculation would give the benefits of the full (18.5km) airport to Newhaven tram line as £545M (since this was the original cost of the full line, which was approved and so we have to imagine that the benefits are at least this large) and the benefits of the truncated (13km) airport to St Andrews Sq line as £383M (=545*13km/18.5km). The options now are to cancel the project, which has a value of 0 (no asset gained and assuming total cost of ~ £600M = £440 already spent + £160M cancellation fees, is sunk) or continue, which has a value of £153M (asset worth £383M gained and differential costs of £230M (£830M cost of which £600M is sunk)). Clearly we should proceed.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      The trams are the sole reason why Leith Waterworld is being targeted for closure and why libraries are being shut part of the week. They are part of the equation and those responsible have yet to face their day of reckoning.

      “Clearly we should proceed.” Disagree. Edinburgh needs radical action now now political compromises that benefit no one. Edinburgh should cancel the trams forthwith and write the outstanding debt off as toxic debt. There are international precedents for what constitutes toxic debt and Edinburgh fulfills them all.


      1. Tom says:

        I agree. Unless Dcomerf has £545,000,000 he would like to invest in the City of Edinburgh himself, he should keep schtum.

  3. Observer says:

    What is it about Councils & swimming pools? When they closed the Govanhill pool here in Glasgow that ended in a riot. Councils dismiss people’s affections for their local facilities at their peril. Good Luck keeping it open.

  4. the Knee says:

    Thanks for putting the word out Bella, I was manning the SUB outside Leith Waterworld today (SUBzero more like, brrr!) and the response all weekend has been excellent, loads of people signed the petition and even those who seemed determined to walk on by did a double take once they realised what it was for. The place was really busy today with a children’s party going on in one of the function rooms and loads of swimmers. It’s obvious what a service it provides to young families. Here’s hoping that people power can win the day.

  5. Helen says:

    I am strongly against the closure of Leith Waterworld but am extremely suprised at how late in the day the Splashback! campaign has been launched. The decision to close the pool was taken many months ago and when I visited about 4 weeks ago I picked up an Edinburgh Leisure printed leaflet announcing the date of closure and thanking all patrons for their support over the years. When venting your anger and frustration it might be worth bearing in mind that information WAS made available to the public. It isn’t the Council’s fault that you have only just found out. I agree that it’s an enormous shame that such a fantastic facility should be lost and have signed the petition to back your campaign, however I only believe it will be a success if it’s carried out in a positive, co-operative vein. Less blame, more cheerleading!

    1. the Knee says:

      Couple of things: the main instigator of the campaign only found out about it less than a fortnight ago when he took his kids along, so I reckon he’s done pretty well in a short space of time. Also it was surprising how many people coming in and out of LWW on Sunday had no idea it was closing. A wee leaflet just isn’t going to attract the attention of harried parents herding rampant excited kids.
      Good on you for signing the petition Helen, better still why not lend a hand in gathering signatures and doing some of that cheerleading down at LWW at the weekend?!

  6. Thanks Kevin and others – we love going there as a family, you’re right the wee ones love it there is nothing like it in Edinburgh, for fun the Commy doesn’t come close (if it is open). We may have to follow the Govanhill example and riot (seriously Peter Burnett nor Bella Caledonia do not nor have ever condoned the modern practice of rioting in any form, just saying) – who exactly is responsible for this decision and whose door do we knock on? Enough is enough. I have looked about the place but what is the reasoning behind the decision? OK I admit we sometimes call dear WW ‘Wee Wee World’ but this is a term of the purest affection and just for fun 🙂 I will miss LWW but would like someone to stand up and argue to us why this decsion is being made.

  7. Apparently they ‘need’ the money for the Commy – this is false and if that is their argument it couldn’t look more class biased. Remember there is £1 million being spent widening Leith pavements at the Shore area so we can have chairs and tables out there (grr!) – – – – – and of those I have spoken to none are pleased – – I’d like to know if anybody thinks they are a good idea for that money – but apparently Pizza Hut are really happy about it, and doubtless happier still that they didn’t have to pay for the new frontal patio that we bought them . This is so transparent: in recession times investing in people and their well-being probably makes more sense than ever. Just remember that when the City argues that there is no money for something, this is not true. Yon pavements could be the equivalent of 3 – 4 years of Waterworld.

  8. Kate Green says:

    Hi there … I am very disappointed to hear about the closure of Leith Waterworld which is the only swimming facility in the Edinburgh area that caters for babies, children and disabled people. I have signed one of the online petition but have discovered that there seems to to two petitions on the go now. Which is best to sign or should I sign both and will they both be taken into account by the council:
    Petitiononline has 300 odd signatures and has 500 odd signature.
    Best wishes

    1. Yes, both are valid and helpful; the first one is UK based and the second one, though global, produces excellent local petitions. Encouraging people to sign is great as when these reach a certain loevel, they cannot be ignored. They also allow people not local to a cause to support and express concern, which is great for allowing people all over to support and express concern.

  9. save waterworld pls i love that place.

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