Campaigners fight for future of Whitehill Pool

21 February 2019

Photograph: Justin Bowie

Campaigners took to the streets today as they call for Glasgow City Council to increase investment in a local swimming pool.

The ‘Save Whitehill Pool’ campaign was launched last month when the Dennistoun venue was threatened with closure.

While the council recently announced that they no longer plan to shut down the pool, locals say its future is still uncertain, and that upgrades are needed if it is to survive in the long term.

Alywn Poulter, a member of the campaign group, said: “The most important thing about Whitehill Pool is that it’s a community asset. It’s a small, friendly place that works for people who can’t go to places like Tollcross or the Gorbals.”

He added: “They feel safe here. It’s a community leisure centre for the Glasgow everyman.

“We want a three-year plan which looks to bring it up to the standard needed. We’ve received a donation from Milnbank Housing Association, but it shouldn’t be up to us to have to find money.

“The council should be responsible for that. If we’re going to get money to improve the pool, then the job needs to be done properly.”

Photograph: Justin Bowie

Jones was keen to emphasise the hard work of everyone involved in the campaign so far.

He said: “Over 300 people attended the first meeting. A lot of people have been helping out in their spare time.

He added: “I’ve been surprised at the amount of support we’ve received, it’s been overwhelming. Everyone’s done really well in such a short space of time.

“Our local representatives have been incredibly supportive. All our local councillors have been very good, as has our MP Paul Sweeney and MSP Ivan McKee.

“A lot of politicians seem to agree keeping the centre open is sensible, and that it’s important to the community.”

The campaign’s initial petition received over 4,000 signatures, and received the backing of UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Deborah Hamilton, another campaigner, believes venues like Whitehill Pool have been hit heavily by high-profile events which have come to Glasgow in recent years.

She said: “When big sporting events have been on in the city they’ve been given plenty of funding, but the maintenance budget hasn’t changed since 2007.”

She added: “New venues cost a lot to maintain. We’re told that these events create wealth – but often they end up costing us money, and working to our detriment.”

Photograph: Justin Bowie

The criticisms come after it was announced that Glasgow will host the 2023 World Cycling Championships, which will cost the council £15 million.

Hamilton said: “Venues like Whitehill Pool have been threatened with closure due to budget cuts to Glasgow City Council.”

She added: “COSLA need to review the spending formula because they don’t look at factors like deprivation which affect Glasgow heavily.

“A lot of people in wealthier surrounding council areas use Glasgow facilities, which is great, but they don’t necessarily contribute to them. Why should we take a bigger hit?”

Whitehill Pool has served as a vital resource for those with disabilities in Dennistoun and across Glasgow in recent years.

Peter McMahon, a member of the Temple Swimming Club, which caters to people with disabilities, said: “We’ve had a number of successful swimmers who’ve come through the club here, such as Andrew Mullen who went on to compete in the London and Rio Paralympics.”

He added: “Two of our recent members are now in the Scottish Squad. of It would be a big loss to the disabled community if the Whitehill Swimming Pool was ever to close.”

Other East End sporting facilities such as Alexandra Park Golf Course and Glasgow Club Haghill have also found themselves facing an uncertain future.

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