Campaign to save Whitehill swimming pool ramps up ahead of community council meeting

Ben Wray

Locals organise against potential closure as city council insists leaked list of potential cuts remains a “technical exercise”

– Campaigners and service users to attend emergency Dennistoun Community Council meeting on Thursday 17 January.

– Campaigners increase efforts to protect pool and other local facilities with street campaigning.

– Locals call on Glasgow City Council to consider health benefits.

– GCC insist potential closures remain options avaliable to administration. Budget to be set on Monday 21 February.

THE effort to save Whitehill pool in Dennistoun, Glasgow has ramped-up today with local campaigning ahead of a Dennistoun Community Council meeting this Thursday [17 January].

Locals are handing out leaflets, creating banners and shooting videos of pool users as part of their push to rescue the Glasgow East End facility ahead of the emergency meeting, to encourage local residents to attend and express their concerns.

Whitehill Pool, Glasgow Club Haghill and Alexandra Park Golf Course are among dozens of Glasgow facilities earmarked by Glasgow City Council for potential closure in documents leaked to the Evening Times.

The new push for community engagement comes after a stormy public meeting last week when residents insisted that they would neither tolerate closures of their local leisure facilities nor the closure of facilities in other parts of the city. 

It also follows claims by Glasgow Life that “a significant sum of money would be required to carry out work on Whitehill swimming pool in order to bring the venue up to a modern standard…”.

Read more: ‘We won’t accept community vs community’ – Glasgow East End residents defend pool threatened with closure

Speaking to CommonSpace Craig Cunningham, a pool manager with the Whitehill Swimming Club, said: “Everyone should come to this meeting on Thursday, have their say and get their voice heard.”

He said that costings didn’t factor in “the health benefits, the mental health benefits of the [Whitehill swimming] club to members.”

“One of the things made clear is that the usage figures for the centre wouldn’t back-up keeping the centre open. But those figures don’t include the 200 Whitehill swimming club members who use it on a Thursday. One receipt goes through the till for Whitehill swimming club, not 200.

“So there’s potentially some skewing of figures to suit the agenda of closing.”

“People come from all over Glasgow to be part of Whitehill swimming club, because of the cost effective rates that we are able to offer.”

Glasgow Provan MSP and Scottish Government minister Ivan McKee is expected to attend the facility on the night of the leafleting. Quoted in the Evening Times he said the pool plays a “crucial role in the health and well being of people in the East End.”

Scottish Green councillor Kim Long was among those who have visited the pool to hear from service users about what it means for the local community.

Speaking to CommonSpace, a spokesperson for the Save Whitehill Pool campaign said: “Whitehill Pool plays a vital role in the Dennistoun community, it’s been brilliant seeing everyone coming together to protect the pool, Haghill gym and Alexandra Park Golf.”

Analysis: May vows ‘austerity is over’ – but should we believe her?

Other additional sport facilities being considered for closure as part of a package of cuts include Barlia Sports Centre, Bellahouston Bowls, Drumchapel Pool, Greenfield, Ruchill Golf, Haghill, Ibrox, John Paul, Lister Street Bowls, Lochend and Stepford, according to leaks to the Evening Times.

GCC has maintained that the leaked list of potential closures, as well as other measures to save funds such as raising street parking costs and reducing bin collections to once every three weeks, are simply options available to the council.

A council spokesperson said: “Like any other year, officers from across the council family are working up a wide range of options and costings for members of all political groups.

“This is a technical exercise designed to help members consider the value and also the impact of potential investments or savings.

“The options published by the Evening Times do not constitute any group’s proposed budget – and it is normal for options to be reviewed and refined over a number of weeks and months, prior to members deciding if they wish to include any of them in their proposals.”

The community council meeting will be held in Whitehill secondary school 7-9pm.

Picture: Save Whitehill Pool/ design Mick Peter