- Created: Tuesday, 01 September 2015 09:25
- Written by James Bell
On Saturday 22 August, over 30 local residents came to a meeting in Elswick pool. The meeting was organized by local activists, Parents Against Cuts and FRFI supporters to discuss the planned closure of the pool in late October. At time of writing, an online petition to save the pool, launched earlier in the week, has over 2,100 signatures. Many residents have commented that this is one of the last remaining facilities in Elswick, one of the poorest areas of the city. Meanwhile the council has recently announced plans for a £45 million refurbishment of its own offices in the Civic Centre.
The pool’s closure is the consequence of Newcastle Labour council’s cuts programme which it launched in 2012 and has continued to pursue in subsequent years. As regular readers of FRFI may remember, this involves cuts of £100m over three years to Newcastle’s public services. Every single Labour councilor voted in favour of this plan. In regards to Elswick pool, the council agreed to attempt to transfer the service to another operator. In other words, to privatise the pool. This was never going to be viable and the planned closure should come as no surprise.
What should, perhaps, come as a surprise is the attendance of Labour councilors Habib Rahman, Dipu Ahad and Anne Schofield at the meeting: all three voted for the withdrawal of funding to the pool but had the audacity to turn up at a meeting against its closure. The councilors refused to answer our questions, Rahman stating only that ‘we’re here to listen’ and that the pool ‘is very personal to me’. These platitudes are not enough. After pressure from the meeting to respond, Schofield commented that she thinks it ‘very unlikely that the pool will be saved’. The councilors agreed to answer our questions publicly at a later date.
The meeting agreed upon several public actions to fight to keep the pool open. These are listed below. What is clear is that Elswick’s residents will not back down and will not accept the council’s political wriggling. FRFI urges its readers to get involved, support the campaign and to hold the council accountable to its actions.
Save Elswick Pool!
No Cuts – Full Stop!
Friday 28 August, 12-1pm
Petitioning outside Elswick pool, in the park, at a local community event. There will be music. Come and join us and build support for the campaign.
Saturday 29 August, 2pm
Organising Meeting. Join us at Elswick pool to organise the campaign's next steps. Main discussion points will be organising to march to the civic centre on Wednesday, 2 September, and how we can continue to build the campaign.
Wednesday 2 September, 4pm
March on the Civic Centre. The council will be having its monthly full meeting on 2 September. We will assemble outside Elswick pool from 4pm, march to the civic centre and attend this meeting. We will be presenting our petition to save the pool to this meeting.