Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Save local swimming pool in Grahame Park - Barnet College
After 30 years, Barnet College has decided to close the swimming pool at its site on Grahame Park Way in Colindale by 21/12/06. The college stated that it had been ‘forced - entirely because of financial considerations - to take this action’, citing issues such as the age of the pool and that future remedial costs would be unaffordable.
Pool users however, have been advised by Barnet College that it is because they want to convert it into accommodation for either staff/students. If extra accommodation is required, then all options should be explored fully. There was no consultation with students, community group pool users, the general public or staff, all of whom use it. The pool was closed down during mid October 2006 and by the end of October, the decision had been made to close it permanently. This was despite Barnet College not yet having applied for the necessary planning permission, which could take at the least, many months.
The swimming pool never made a profit, although it generated an income from community group users. Staff over the years have presented income generating schemes, none of which to date have been adopted, but a further proposal is being presented by Barnet UNISON. Sponsorship could have been sought. Lottery funding could also have been a viable possibility, as a community college in London recently received £ 400,000 for their sports programme.
This swimming pool is in the middle of a deprived north London estate, which is in desperate need of sports facilities. A representative for Jewish and Muslim community pool users stated that it will be impossible to replicate the single sex sessions offered for religious reasons, at the College. Low income families will also be deprived of affordable swimming lessons. Finally, members of the public, all students (including those with disabilities and those on sports courses) and staff at Barnet College have lost their local pool for ever.
Everyone knows that swimming is a great form of exercise and the benefits to our health are numerous. Exercise is key to weight management, a healthy heart and greater energy levels, and, coupled with a sensible diet, is essential for us all to live a long and healthy life. It is also very important for children to learn the habit of taking regular exercise early on in life and swimming can be a fun way to keep fit.
Time is of the essence, this pool is due to be closed by mid December. Once closed, it is highly unlikely to re-open again due to damage to the water pipes.
Barnet UNISON with the support of the Teaching Union (UCU) have started a petition and are seeking urgent talks with the College.
Please support our campaign by writing immediately to Tony Alderman, Chairman of the Board of Governors, Barnet College, Wood Street, Barnet, EN5 4AZ, telling him that Barnet College must keep the pool open. If you are in a position to offer sponsorship or make a substantial donation to finance this community pool, please contact UNISON on 020 8359 2088.