|Fyrishof in Uppsala - now that's a swimming pool!|
So when we heard in January that the Council would consider - support even - a community bid to reopen Waterworld, we were delighted. It seemed like finally, things were being done differently. Which is why we all feel like we've been kicked in the guts today. The council is going to vote tomorrow, but both parties in the ruling coalition support selling Waterworld for a derisory £1million so that a profitmaking firm can turn it into softplay. There are already several softplays in Leith, and certainly no one is going to travel down Leith walk just to go to another one. So this one will just take business away from the existing operations. I can't see any long-term financial logic, nor benefit to the council accepting the commercial offer. The only justification seems to be that 'council officials recommended it'.
The comments on Andrew Burns blog are a must read. Passionate pleading for a pool that is warm, and shallow enough for toddlers. The sloping 'beach' like entrance. The waves and slide. The Commonwealth pool does have a small pool for kids, but it's regularly too full and people are turned away. A pool where they can play with their kids, not watch them from the side. They put it so much better than I can. Do read them.
It's ridiculous that people are driving their kids to Dunbar and Perth so that they can play in fun pools, but it's even more devastating to have the council pull the rug out from under the feet of people who have been working hard to set up the bid.
This decision has absolutely shattered the trust and faith of community activists, many of them just local families trying to work with the council to improve their local area. For many this will have been their first taste of activism and engagement. What message have they been sent? That the council doesn't care about them. That their elected representatives can't be trusted. That's going to be the long term legacy of this decision. And that's even sadder than all the kids who will not know the fun of playing in warm water with their parents and learn to love water and sport.