Memorandum submitted by Govanhill Pool,
"The purpose of the pool campaign is to
ensure that the Calder Street Pool is reopened as a publicly funded
Healthy Living Centre. The Centre would be for the use and improvement
in health and sport of all the residents in Govanhill and surrounding
1. History of Calder Street Baths
2. The Govanhill Area
3. The Process of Closure
5. Has Funding New Pools been the Answer?
6. Pool Campaign
7. Health Issues
8. Political Support
9. Religious Support
11. Thank you for Listening
12. In Summary
13. Recommendations for Consideration
1. HISTORY OF
The Calder Street Baths were opened in around
1914. It is a Grade IIB listed building. The building has many
similar features to swimming pools built around that period such
as the Victoria Baths in Manchester.
1.2 Facilities available
(a) Large main pool especially useful for
(b) A smaller pool that was especially used
for segregated swimming to cater for the large ethnic population
in the local area. Ethnic females, for religious reasons, are
not able to bathe in open public areas.
(c) A teaching pool that was used for teaching
children to swim, and was especially useful for teaching of special
needs childrenthe pool was used by four local special needs
schools (Hollybrook, St Oswalds, Kirkriggs and Carnbooth), all
of which have lost swim time since the closure of the pool).
There were also gym facilities and a sauna and
steam room. The laundrette and bathtubs were closed despite 700
households in the area not having bathing facilities, ie no bath
1.3 Usage of the facilities
There were 200,000 users of the pool in recent
years. Like similar pools around the country, the facility has
not been maintained and appeared to be deliberately under-funded
allowing the building to fall into disrepair. This led to frequent
temporary closures of the pool due to mechanical problems with
the boiler and other apparatus. Glasgow City Council estimates
that in the last year before closure there were only 80,000 users.
Figures for usage were grossly inaccurate as machines used for
counting apparently often did not work and were delayed from being
repaired; swim days were also lost due to above cited problems.
Swimming groups were counted as one user when in fact there were
up to 200 users in the club.
2. THE GOVANHILL
The Govanhill area of Glasgow is one of the
most deprived areas of the city with poor health, high unemployment
and crime a major concern. Govanhill lies within the Shettleston
constituency, officially the unhealthiest and most deprived in
Britain. There is a diverse mix of ethnic and religious groups
in the local area. Like many deprived inner city areas around
the country Govanhill faces the threat of closure of many local
facilities and amenities. Local perceptions that the area is in
decline were confirmed in a study what was carried out by the
Scottish Council Foundation, this study identified Govanhill as
a community "at risk". A key local concern uncovered
by this study was the loss and deterioration of local facilities.
This was recognised in the document Sport Life
for You "Low levels of car ownership result in a lack of
personal mobility and coupled with low levels of income and territoriality
amongst young people place major constraints on their participation
in sport and recreation.
Sport Scotland also state that sport such as
swimming can make a positive impact on young people in particular.
As it provides an opportunity for personal and social development
and a positive alternative to crime, drug and alcohol abuse. Naturally
it improves health and fitness and can boost confidence and self
esteem, teach leadership, teamwork and social skills that can
be used in all aspects of life. It also offers valuable lessons
on how to win and how to lose. It teaches the benefit of hard
work and how to treat others with self-respect.
The pool should not only be preserved for preservations
sake but should be preserved because it responds to the needs
of the local communitymulti-cultural as well as poor health
and suffering multiple deprivation.
3. THE PROCESS
When opposition parties in Glasgow first raised
concern about the possible closure this was denied by the Council
and elected Councillors. The information give to the Scottish
Parliament led Rhona Brankin, Junior Minister in response to questions
about the closure of another neighbouring pool, to state in December
1999, that Govanhill offered one of the best provisions in Scotland.
3.2 Council makes a decision
At some state during the year attitudes to the
pool suddenly changed. It is difficult to know when Glasgow City
Council made the decision, as there was no apparent record of
the decision being made to close the pool by the Culture and Leisure
Department, whose Director is Bridget McConnell, wife of the Jack
McConnell, now the First Minister. In January 2001 was the first
time that it was officially confirmed after months of denial that
the Council had decided to close the pool. In February 2001 the
matter was due to be discussed by the Council Finance Committee.
However, before this finance meeting letters were made available
at the pool signed by the Council Leader stating that the pool
would be closing, at the end of March, stating that the pool had
"past its sell by date", and also implied that the decision
had already been taken to close the pool. At the crucial finance
meeting the local elected councillor who could have objected to
the closure was absent, leaving nobody to speak on behalf of the
local community. Instead of writing to the chair of the Finance
Committee, he had written to the Labour Chief Executive. This
ensured that there were no objections at the meeting that approved
the closure as a budget cut.
3.3 Pool users informed
In January 2001 Council officials informed swimming
clubs of the closure and some were allocated a pool in Castlemilk
several miles away. They were not given an opportunity to use
either of the two new pools.
3.4 Community Council
The Community Council was not properly informed
of the proposal before closure. The Council has now disbanded
the local Community Councils as the democratically elected local
representatives have tried to discuss the pool closure.
3.5 Feasibility Study
After the public outcry from the local community
and in Glasgow of yet another pool closure in the city a feasibility
study was commenced to put forward proposals for the pool building.
The remit for EDAW, the appointed consultants, was partial and
full demolition as well as the possibility of some kind of pool
facility. Re-opening the pool with public funding was not an option,
limiting the remit of the feasibility study.
EDAW, the contractors appointed by GCC to undertake
the feasibility study have refused to talk to any community resident
or local business that would involve re-opening all three pools
or any Council funding as it was not in their remit.
EDAW finally recognised the importance of Community
consultation and sent out thousands of questionnaires to selected
local residents on 16 November 2001. This is nearly five months
after they commenced the survey. The questionnaire stated that
funding was "unlikely" to be available for the main
pool. This is incorrect given that a proper evaluation has not
been carried out. The questionnaire officially recognised that
most local residents support the pool being re-opened. Options
that EDAW included were demolishing a Grade IIB listed building
and reusing it for a variety of different uses. The questionnaire
is completely biased to the Council preferred options.
3.6 Title Deeds
In a previous case GCC were prevented from building
on the Glasgow Green, a local park, because it was revealed the
Title Deeds stated that the park was to be retained for the good
of the people of Glasgow. In the case of the Calder Street Baths
GCC are taking extraordinary measures to prevent local people
viewing the Title Deeds of the building. The Official Council
solicitor stated that GCC is withholding the title deeds every
attempt will be made to prevent their disclosure on the building.
The Council has refused to allow anyone to view the Title Deeds
of the Calder Street building even after legal representation
had been made. It makes it very interesting that such vital documents
are being withheld after what happened at Glasgow Green.
4.1 Sport Scotland/Lottery Funding
Glasgow City Council received substantial grants
from Sport Scotland, which they do not appear to be required to
give any account of their expenditure. We have tried on numerous
occasions to obtain clarification from Sport Scotland about how
they monitor how the money is spent. To date they have not replied
to our correspondence or appear to have any proper accountable
procedures to avoid misuse of funds.
A swimming group using the pool has not been
able to obtain any kind of public funding, as the funding maximum
expenditure threshold is quite low. An example, swimming group
had an annual budget of £15,500. This is £500 over the
level eligible for lottery funding. As a result they are not able
to receive any lottery funding for their group.
4.2 Scottish Heritage/Civic Trust
The building is listed and is on the "at
risk" register by the Scottish Civic Trust. There is a real
fear that the Council plan to demolish this listed building as
they have done in other parts of the city.
4.3 Scottish Executive
The Scottish Executive has had a huge under
spend, despite this they have stated that they are unable to assist
in local matters. However, the Scottish Executive were able to
offer assistance for Hampden which is in the local area of the
pool and Sighthill where the Council has accommodated refugees.
4.4 Glasgow City Council
of old pools
There is clear evidence that Councils do not
want to maintain old historic buildings. Such buildings are often
deliberately under-funded so that they are run-down making closure
more likely. This is clearly a form of "institutional vandalism".
The Convenor of the Cultural and Leisure Services stated that
"The Labour Group believe that smaller swimming pools like
Calder Street are past their useful life and their retention is
considered impossible." This apparent short-sighted attitude
appears to be a prevalent attitude of many inner city councils
around the country of many political persuasions. In Calder Street
this meant that loose tile were stuck back with sticky tape rather
than proper tiling grout ensuring that further water penetration
and damage occurred.
At one time Glasgow had 25 public bathhouses,
all in the traditional Victorian style. Govanhill was the last
remaining pool of this type in Glasgow, the only other which is
still in operation, has been extensively refurbished and has lost
many of its original features. The loss of Govanhill would thus
be a devastating blow to the architectural heritage and social
history of the city.
The most intensive period of culling of Victorian
bathhouses in Glasgow has taken place over the past 20 years.
To our knowledge there are at least three other Victorian bath
houses in Glasgow which were closed in the last five years and
which currently still lied boarded up and unused. These bathhouses
are typically located in inner city areas and are very much community
facilities, accessed mostly on foot by local residents. Govanhill
pool was regarded as such a community facility and was accessed
mostly by people who lived within a one to two mile radius of
the pool, mostly on foot or local transport. The Council has chosen
to cut down on the level of service by building a far smaller
number of leisure facilities, to which people are expected to
travel over longer distances.
The ethnic minority community also face significant
barriers to using these local facilities because of the open,
glass walled architectural style, prohibiting use for those, particularly
women of the Islamic faith. Govanhill pools extensive use by the
local (and wider) ethnic minority community demonstrates that
not only is the pool a historic building with strong heritage
value but that it is also a very relevant building to the contemporary
needs of a multi-cultural community.
4.4.2 Security costs
Glasgow City Council has spent tens of thousands
of pounds for security officers for a peaceful campaign. This
money could have been better spent keeping the pool open for another
year whilst a proper public consultation took place.
4.5 Other sources of funding
As there has been no formal process enabling
alternative sources to be found from resident and business donations,
health board and other charitable groups. This was possible, before
closure by the Council, working with the local community if the
intention was to save the pool.
5. HAS FUNDING
5.1 Environmentally unfriendly
One of the new pools was built on a site with
a history of subsidence. Another new pool has glass fronted sides
unsuitable to certain ethnic groups for religious reasons. Glass
buildings need a lot more maintenance in the long term and are
not environmentally friendly as there are more heating and air-conditioning
5.2 Leisure pools not swimming pools
The new facilities are unsuitable for swimming
clubs, as they are leisure pools. They are not deep enough nor
do they have adequate if any spectator galleries for competitions
and swimming galas.
5.3 Poor public transport access
The location of these facilities is unsuitable
for access by public transportboth of the facilities to
which Govanhill residents have been redirected toGorbals
and Bellahoustonrequire either two buses or a bus and a
long walk. This is proving prohibitive for non-car owners, the
elderly, disabled, and those with families. New pools had been
built with poor transport access to areas losing pools.
5.4 Territorial problems
A further barrier for young people is the territorialism
which exists between Govanhill and the Gorbals, unfortunately
young people will not travel into what is regarded as a "rival
area", where there safety is at risk, and are choosing not
to swim at all.
Some of the swimming groups that used the Calder
Street Pool state that there has been a 50 per cent drop in numbers.
There has been a similar drop in GP referrals for health rehabilitation
6. POOL CAMPAIGN
6.1 How a pool campaign began
Like other pools around the country that faced
a similar uncertain future it was clear that local support needed
to be established. The Pool Campaign arose and was established
to ensure that another local facility was not lost without local
There had been rumours for a long time that
the Calder Street Baths could close. Elected Councillors and Council
officials always denied this. There was no effective debate about
the closure either before during or after closure.
The Mission Statement of the campaign is "The
purpose of the pool campaign is to ensure that the Calder Street
Pool is re-opened as a publicly funded Healthy Living Centre.
The Centre would be for the use and improvement in health of all
the residents in Govanhill and surrounding areas."
The Campaign started when it became clear in
January 2001 that the pool could close, The Campaign has always
been peaceful and non-violent. When it became clear that the Council
was following the DAD principles:
Decided on a policy without any proper consultation;
Announced a policy without any proper consultation;
Defended that policy without any proper consultation.
6.2 High Profile Action
It became clear that when the local elected
representative Councillors were not willing to discuss the matter
attention needed to be drawn to the Calder Street Pool. An occupation
of the building began to preserve the building and prevent any
vandalism or theft-taking place from this local facility. The
occupation lasted over a hundred days whilst the Council deliberated
on the course of action to take. Clearly they under-estimated
the strength of local feeling and highlighted that the Council
was not following Government guidelines to actively seek local
support and ideas in the decision making process. The occupation
ended on 7 August with the Council implementing an eviction order.
The approach the Council adopted shocked people throughout Glasgow
and Scotland. The Police involvement on the day is now under investigation
by Fife Constabulary.
6.3 Support Days
Various Gala Days and events ranging from rallies
to bike rides were organised at which hundreds of local people
turned up to support. There is widespread support for the campaign
all over the city.
Tens of thousands of people have signed the
petition to keep the pool open.
6.5 World-wide web support
The save our pool campaign's web-site at saveourpool.co.uk
has received over 20,000 hits and messages of support. A priest
in Brazil/the Mayor of Brisbane Australia had sent some pictures
of a demolished pool building.
6.6 High Profile Celebrity support
Many actors, public figures and celebrities
have stopped by the pool to support the campaign.
7. HEALTH ISSUES
7.1 Health Study
The pool campaign from its own resources has
funded a health feasibility study in the area to assess the real
impact of the pool closure on the local community. Support has
been widespread with local residents, schools and patients taking
time to complete the forms.
The results of this study are currently being
collated, however a few key issues are being raised again and
again. When asked what people like/dislike about traditional pools
and what they like/dislike about leisure pools again and again
it is said that the traditional pool of Govanhill was friendly
and had a strong community feeling, unlike the leisure pools which
are regarded as impersonal and clinical. This point should strike
a chord with the governments policies on neighbourhood and community
cohesion, in Govanhill, a community "at risk" the pool
was an oasis of calm, a place to feel a part of a together community.
Such facilities should be encouraged, not destroyed.
A great many people also mentioned the distance
and inaccessibility of the new facilities, this is proving a powerful
disincentive for many people, to the extent that they have either
given up swimming or have drastically reduced the amount of swimming
More worryingly, Glasgow City Councils flagship
public health initiative"free swimming for kids"
is floundering in Govanhillearly indications show that
a significant number of local children have failed to apply for
the free swim card, despite being regular swimmers at Govanhill,
they cannot travel to the new distant facilities themselves and
their parents cannot afford to take them.
7.2 Results from the health survey
Below is a selection of quotes from local people,
from the questionnaires:
"People need to have facilities so that
they can have no excuse for being heart attacks-in-waiting"Pollokshields
resident, female 26-40.
On Govanhill pool "a valuable local facility
that catered for the needs of the community, deliberately run
down by the Council"Govanhill resident, female age
"I am a personal carer and now have to make
extra arrangements to care for my relative while travelling to
a distant pool. I used Govanhill pool twice a week but now can
only arrange to use Gorbals once a weektravelling time
is the main factor."Govanhill resident, female, age
"The closure of the pool has not only affected
my joints (arthritis) but has also affected by social networks".
Female 26-40 Govanhill
Below are some quotes from public health experts,
which points to the need for good health promoting facilities
in places like Govanhill:
"the key to health improvements is to address
the causes of poor health and not just the symptoms".
"implications for public health policy is
that attention should be focused on places as well as people".
"public health policy should focus on health
promoting or health damaging features of local areas as well as
on individual lifestyle factors".
7.3 Casualties of closure
7.3.1 Stroke victim
One of the saddest cases that the campaign that
had come to the attention was that of a local resident who used
to swim daily at the pool. Since it's closure has been unable
to travel to other facilities. Recently this swimmer had a stroke
and is now limited mobility. The full impact of the pool closure
on this victim cannot be clearly assessed however, there will
be many more such cases in the long term.
7.3.2 Mugged swimmers
A female swimmer unable to afford the bus fare
to the new pool walked from Govanhill through a park to Bellahouston
Pool. On the way she was mugged in the park. On arriving at the
pool was told she could not swim as there were too many children
in the pool for lane swimming to be possible.
7.3.3 Territorial pools
Young people attempted to use the Gorbals pool
are being threatened by Gorbal youths stating that people from
Govanhill are not allowed to use their pool.
Local MP's including Mohammed Sarwar (Govan)
and David Marshall (Shettleston) have both pledged support and
have tried to liaise with the local council. As many MPs will
be aware of their talks with their own local councils that they
have not appreciated their involvement. Mr Sarwar referred to
the Council Leader as the "City's Godfather" the Untouchable.
8.2 House of Lords
Baroness Kennedy of Pollok had contacted the
campaign to register her support as she had apparently used the
facilities of the pool.
MSP's including Nicola Sturgeon, Dorothy Grace
Elder amongst others have brought the Govanhill pool situation
to the attention of the Scottish Executive but was unable to gain
8.4 Local Councillors
Like many pool campaigns around Britain, local
councillors, despite letters, e-mails and visits to the local
surgery, sadly have been unwilling to discuss the pool issue in
a mature democratic way. This has been the same in Govanhill as
in other areas, and has towed the official party line. In areas
where one party controlled Town Halls for long periods local democracy
suffers and is not popular. In both Liverpool and Lambeth once
considered safely controlled Councils the local electorate fed
up of such arrogance and voted out the ruling party.
8.5 Other Support
Kingston Swimming Club, Queens Park Swimming
Club, Govanhill Amateur Swimming Club, Men's Fitness Swimming
Club, Talim Trust, Govanhill Housing Association. Various pool
campaigns around Britain including Victoria Baths and Gorton Tub
9.1 Local Mosque Leaders
Local mosque leaders have supported the campaign
as they have lost a valuable local facility that was suitable
for Asian women to use. The Council states that they have taken
this into account when building new local pools. The extent to
which the Council was out of touch was building glass fronted
buildings for pools and believing that this would be accepteable
to Asian women who are unable to show their legs in public.
9.2 Church Leaders
Various denominational church leaders have supported
the campaign recognising the importance of local, affordable amenities
for the welfare of the local community. Spending several pounds
to go swimming by public transport to the nearest pools is not
an option for many.
9.3 Synagogue Leaders
Synagogue leaders like the other religious leaders
have also pledged their support.
9.4 Gudwara Leaders
Local temple leaders have also backed the campaign.
Local and national media have covered the campaign
recognising the importance of local accountability and democracy.
There have been several hundred articles and features in the newspapers,
national and local news and radio.
Journalist of the Decade, Paul Foot, amongst
others has written to register his support for the campaign.
11. THANK YOU
My father used to work across the road from
the Houses of Parliament at Westminster Underground Station. As
a child I would often visit him at his work place. He was convinced
that politicians at Westminster were not interested in what the
average person on the street had to say and was definitely not
interested in what the ethnic minorities have to say. I am pleased
that times have changed since those times. The pool campaign is
fully aware that Heritage is a devolved matter. However, the experiences
of Govanhill have national implications and is current and still
pending. Whatever the outcome of the your report I am personally
enormously grateful to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee
for allowing me the time and opportunity to present this case
and for listening.
Elected representatives must listen to their
electorate to ensure that the best value and best solutions are
found to meet local needs and requirements. If politicians are
unwilling to listen they lose touch with their electorate and
are unable to deliver on their promises or local needs. It is
important in our parliamentary democracy that elected representatives
listen and create opportunities to hear from ordinary people.
On behalf of the people of Govanhill thank you for listening.
12. IN SUMMARY
12.1 The pool is part of the community
Baroness Thatcher (whose name the room bears
where the evidence is due to be submitted), once said there is
no such thing as Society. When local amenities and community facilities
are closed the very fabric of that community is undermined and
its very heart destroyed. A situation far worse than Baroness
Thatcher's images emerges the community becomes a society of individuals.
The health of the individual is affected by the health of the
community. Better health arises when the individual feels part
of a community and able to participate in the well-being of that
society. The Govanhill pool campaign is not just merely about
the closure of a valuable local resource, but the saving of a
community from the brink of destruction, despair, social deprivation
and inequalities that are a common feature in many inner city
areas throughout the country.
12.2 Local communities should have the opportunity
and a chance to succeed
Prince William recently came to see for himself
problems in Sighthill. The problems gained national attention
sadly when a death arose. Although the worst conflict of Govanhill
also occurred around that time we did not get a visit. We do not
want violent deaths on our streets in order to gain media attention
and Royal visits. The pool campaign is a peaceful protest to re-open
a much missed and valued local facility. We do need support and
encouragement. Forums such as this Select Committee and meeting
our pool campaigns gives us strength and determination to persevere
for years if necessary.
1. Help stop institutional vandalism of our
National Heritage by encouraging proper community involvement
in their future
It is clear that such examples of institutional
vandalism are planned although not discussed long in advance of
closure. Before a closure of a local facility is proposed, there
needs to be widespread local involvement in the preserving of
their local facility. The Government has published ideas concerning
best value that the local communities are the best source of ideas
to solve local problems. It is right that the local community
should be involved. In many examples around the country what has
been displayed is apparent cowardly acts of leadership, where
elected representatives believe that they have a monopoly on good
2. Any consideration of closure should take
into account the full social impact on the community
Government should develop guidelines to ensure
that the full impact, (such as health, social exclusion, social
and religious factors etc) of the closure of local facilities
are properly considered and taken into account.
3. Proper and accurate assessment of local
The needs and reasonable realistic expectations
of the local community need to be properly assessed and considered.
It is clearly a waste of finite public resources when local amenities
are not what are required or able to use what they are given due
to poor consultation.
There needs to be a real openness and honesty
about the problems to generate solutions.
4. All sources of funding need to be properly
considered an evaluated before closure is considered
All sources of funding need to be considered
prior to closure to ensure that limited private and public resources
are not squandered due to poor action at the appropriate stage
by the relevant authorities. In the case of closed swimming pools
adequate security and prevention of water penetration needs to
be founded and taken into account.
5. Lottery funding needs to be more flexible
The availability of Lottery and other funding
needs to be clearly identified and a network of support developed
to assist and support local community applications for funding.
The threshold needs to be more flexible to take into account local
circumstances. This is a very complex area and involved putting
together business plans etc that are often abstract to local communities.
6. Proper accountability from Public bodies
giving local Councils funding
Public bodies providing funding to local community
should demand a local accountability from local councils to ensure
that funds are used for their intended purpose.
7. The real impact on swimming groups needs
to be considered effectively
Swimming groups are an important part of widening
the sport to a broader appeal enabling young and old to achieve
their full potential. Future Olympic champions emerge when they
are supported, encouraged and nurtured to achieve their full potential.
In the case of Govanhill many of the swimming groups have halved
in size, as members are not able to afford the additional transport
costs and time needed to travel to new venues.
The funding of swimming as a sport needs to
be considered carefully to ensure that there is a fair distribution
of resources at all levels and not just popular or well known
In Australia where I have just returned in April
there is a genuine support at all levels of Government, local
councils and communities preventing the likelihood of social exclusion
which is now at the heart of Government policy. If a similar approach
could be adopted in Britain the quality of swimming in Britain
could be dramatically changed.
The Government and its policies will be assessed
on the way it has been delivered. This report from the Calder
Street Pool demonstrates that in so many policy documents and
reports, Government and public policies are not being implemented
at the local council level, in Glasgow and many examples throughout
27 November 2001