After the Lord Mayor had gone through the various statutory procedures, there were then the Addresses by the Public to the council members. Gwynneth Pedler gave a coherent and effective plea to the council not to abolish the role of the disability access officer and highlighted the many achievements during the current officer's tenure that have improved the equality for disabled people within the City.
Following Gwynneth, Jane Magpie of Save Temple Cowley Pools took the stand and gave an impassioned speech on how the latest information that has come to light undermines the Council's case for closing the Pool. She notably highlighted several points of severe and direct criticism of the proposal and process as run by the Labour-led Council, and at the close received a rapturous applause from the public gallery and councillor's alike, with the notable exception of the Labour members.
Then Nigel Gibson took the stand and told the story that as the Campaign was uncertain of certain of the facts surrounding the proposed plans for the pool, that they'd made a Freedom of Information request from the council to obtain the full details of the project, including the breakdown of costs behind the £2.6 million pounds of critical repairs that the Council claims the pool needs.
Reading figures from the full costing for the refurbishment of Temple Cowley Pools and Fitness Centre, Nigel cited that of the £2.6m, 300,000 was actually earmarked for the new pool at Blackbird Leys. Of the £2.3m remaining, some £3,000 was for 'line painting', some £200,000 was for a new lighting system (this user of the pool finds the current lighting to be perfectly adequate), and only £30,000 was quoted as being the cost of repairing the supporting column in the main pool area that has been cited by the Council as being a main cause of the failing infrastructure of the pool and one of the primary reasons for closing it. So, in short:
The Council claims £2.6m to make the pool safe, when it actual fact it will cost just £30,000. The question is now, if the column in question is so unsafe, and threatening the structural integrity of the building, and it would only cost £30,000 to put it right, why hasn't the Council done anything about it. Presumably, Nigel concluded, because none of the Pool's users are actually at risk.
Nigel also highlighted that the Pool itself had a carbon footprint of just 37 tonnes of carbon per year, making it the most efficient facility in the City.
Nigel receive another round of applause and cheers from the public gallery, but a lukewarm reception from most of the Councilors, some of whom were now looking increasingly sheepish.
A finally Hillary Dewey took the stand to conclude the Addresses by the Public, and explained how the "greatest happiness for the greatest number of people" could be achieved by keeping the Pool open. She reminded Councilors that 11,000 people, or one in ten adults in Oxford, had signed the petition to save the pool, and that some 250,000 people used the pool every year. Including many people in the immediate vicinity who walked to the pool, and many more who cycled. Hillary concluded that the only reason she could see that might explain the Council's desire to sell-off the land the pool stands on was to provide more housing to Oxford Brookes University.
The Addresses by the Public over, Nigel then got to read a question to the Council Leader Bob Price asking why the council was willing to spend £16m on a project that would reduce the number of users of the facilities from the current approximately 450,000 users of Temple Cowley Pools and Fitness Centre and Blackbird Leys Swimming Pool to the estimated 350,000 users of the proposed Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre to which Councillor Price muttered a response that was too quite for me to hear*
* It seemed on several occasions that Councillor Price was unable or unwilling to use the microphones fitted in the chamber in order to make himself heard to his fellow Council Members, the Lord Mayor and those of us in the public gallery. If Cllr Price so wishes, we could arrange for a workshop on the correct use of a push button that enables a microphone to work.