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save our local swimming pool and gym

rosalind miles | 14.05.2006 09:57 | Education | Health | Social Struggles | Oxford

City Council threatening to close or dramatically change our local pool againgt the wishes of the pool users.

Save our pool, say swimmers
By Rosalind Miles

Jane Alexander with the petition

More than 100 swimmers who fear a swimming pool could close have launched a protest petition.
Oxford City Council is considering if Temple Cowley pool in Temple Road, Cowley, is viable as part of its leisure strategy review.
Jane Alexander, 50, who lives off Hollow Way, Cowley, is one of many swimmers who say they would be devastated if the pool were to shut.
She has mobility problems, and moved near the pool to make it easier for her to get to it, as swimming alleviates her condition.
She said: "Without swimming, I'm rubbish. When you have problems moving on land, swimming does so much for you. You are so much more free to move. It makes you feel alive."
In February, Liberal Democrat city councillor Paul Sargent suggested the pool was outdated and needed a major overhaul or should be relocated.
Pool users are afraid that if the pool is to be redeveloped, the communal changing rooms could be scrapped in favour of 'village'-style individual cubicles, like those in the Ferry Centre, in Summertown.
Ms Alexander said having changing rooms meant people could chat and socialise while changing and most people wanted them to stay.
She said: "As it is, there are precious few places to socialise outside the pub. The early morning swimmers are a group. We know each other and go out to lunch together.
"We will lose all that. And it will be such a shame if mothers with babies can't chat. They love to talk about what their babies can do.
"They say it's because of child protection, but cubicles are private and more open to abuse than in a communal changing room with people coming in and out.
"Cubicles are especially worrying with the reports of teenagers causing trouble and having sex in pool changing rooms."
Swimmer Charlotte Barrow, who supports the petition, said: "Swimming can be a very lonely pasttime. I was making a number of friends through the camaraderie of the changing room. I hate all cubicle changing. You can't shower properly."
The protest is also supported by the Green Party. Spokesman Elise Benjamin said: "This is an absolute disgrace. We cannot afford to lose this vital leisure facility and the Greens will not allow it to happen."
Council spokesman Louisa Dean said: "We have no plans to close any our of facilities at this stage. The leisure strategy was agreed in full council last month and we are now in the process of a facility review which is ongoing."

rosalind miles