|Posted on December 28, 2016 at 6:45 PM|
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”
Cllr Simm, at South Oxford Community Centre, publicising the radical changes the Council is to force on the community at East Oxford Community Centre (lazy OxMail photo edit journalism - or perhaps councillors don't want to go near EOCC at the moment...)
The latest puff piece from the City Council appears in the Oxford Mail on December 27th. In it, Cllr Simm opines on the vision of a ‘community hub’. You may have heard this phrase before. It’s not something the Council is given to talking about, as it implies they are actually working with the people they are employed to serve and councillors represent – when in fact they only ever pursue their own self-aggrandising agenda while being deaf to community needs.
Where did you hear it before? Well, from us. In our proposal to take over Temple Cowley Pools and operate it at no cost to the Council and great benefit to the community, we addressed the problems the Council has caused over many years by taking facilities away from the Cowley area. Like the Cowley Community Centre, now ‘replaced’ by a block of flats and a charity outlet, and including two ‘community rooms’ – the size of two disabled toilets. These are no replacement for what was there before, the centre that was much loved, admired and used by Cowley.
We would have rebuilt the gym and changing areas, and added much-needed social housing, café, public space (two studios/general areas) and treatment rooms. This would have formed, yes, a community hub, a focus for the Cowley area to replace what the City Council took away. But, rejected by the Council in favour of a scheme to get them £3.6m. Anyway, it’s great to see a community hub anywhere in the Council’s thinking – just a shame they didn’t want to do it for Cowley. Please remind your Labour councillor next time they tell you what wonderful things they do for the city.
The rest of the article is also interesting, and reveals again how the Council seeks to control every bit of public (‘community’ space for profit. Rather than let East Oxford Community Centre run independently and carry on delivering what people want, the Council has stepped in and taken over the centre from the Community Association that’s been successfully running it for years. Apart from the centralisation policy of control, the Council is set on closing down two other centres local to EOCC, and selling them off for housing. When this first came to light, the Council said there was no truth in the rumours. Well, yes there was. Then they said the activities could be transferred completely to EOCC. But of course that will mean ‘improvements’ (for which read ‘wholesale changes nobody wants’;), funded by the sale of the two other centres for housing development. Then the plans emerge for ‘consultation’, showing not only that badminton will now be impossible (unlike previously promised), but part of the EOCC land will have to be sold off. Or, as Cllr Simm so indelicately asserts, “If you have a centre that needs improvement and is based on quite a large site, we need to ask if there is scope for selling some of it.” And in order to fund the operation of EOCC (which was running quite happily previously) the Council will do what they have at other sites, bring in “police, ambulance and other services”. Doing this will lose the community feel of EOCC, as has happened at Barton and Rose Hill. Why, we have to ask, does the Council feel it has to control everything, and not listen, again and again, to the community it exists to serve?
|Posted on December 24, 2016 at 2:50 PM|
On 23rd December 2014 our Labour-led Oxford City Council shut Temple Cowley Pools, with swimmers still in the pool. The Labour Executive Councillors rejected a community bid to revive Cowley, in favour of granting planning permission for twice the permitted housing density in return for £3.6m. We held a vigil to mark the anniversary:
|Posted on August 21, 2016 at 5:30 AM||comments (0)|
Saturday, 20th August, 2016 - we had a brilliant day as usual at the Elder Stubbs Festival. Hundreds of visitors to the stall, and not one thought it right that our Labour-controlled Council should take these facilities away from Cowley:
- 25m competition swimming pool
- Diving pool - the only one in Oxfordshire!
- Learner pool
- Exercise Studio
- Sauna and Steam Suite
We collected many signatures for our latest petition, and visitors included several Green councillors, including their City Council Leader Craig Simmons, and also County Councillor and prospective Green Party Leader David Williams, both long-term supporters of the Campaign.
We heard many personal stories of how people used to use Temple Cowley Pools, and the effect closure by the Council has had on their lives. Not being able to swim or exercise regularly or conveniently affects people's health and mental wellbeing, and there is an inevitable impact on costs to the NHS and social cohesion in the Cowley community. This impact has been blatantly ignored by the City Council in closing the centre, and even now denying the facts - the Council ordered the demolition to start in the first place, and can stop the demolition at any moment.
|Posted on July 15, 2016 at 3:45 PM||comments (0)|
The Campaign was out in force on Sunday, 10th July for our usual attendance at the Cowley Carnival. A brilliant day out demonstrating what's best about the community cohesion in Oxford. It started all very dismally, with overcast skies, buffeting winds and pockets of rain dumping on the stall holders. But as the day progressed we moved into bright sunshine before the heavens opened with a torrential shower of rain just as it all finished.
Star of our show this year was Blue Dog, our new mascot who's found a home with the Campaign. Apart from being Blue, he doesn't have a name, so we're open to suggestions. He made two appearances, the first with the opening parade of 100 dogs, and then later in the main procession itself. He made a great impression on the public, being greeted, patted, cheered and clapped all the way down the Cowley Road. And a great attraction afterwards at the Campaign stall in Manzil Way.
We were there, as usual, to remind the public of what's been lost because Labour councillors on Oxford City Council voted to close Temple Cowley Pools in December 2014. The building is still there, despite the City Council instructing the developer to demolish it. And demolition looms, and could happen any time. And we were there to collect signatures for our latest petition, number 9, and ask people to send in objections to the planning application that would replace a vital part of the Temple Cowley fabric with a development that would be twice the permitted housing density.
Our thanks go to:
- the many people who stopped by the stall, spoke to us about the Campaign, and found out how Temple Cowley Pools could be run by the community at no cost to the Council, if only Labour would let us.
- all the people who signed the petition - coming soon to the City Council to force them to debate their disastrous decision to close TCP once again. This is the Labour legacy, a decision that will haunt them for years and mask all their claims to greatness - a decision that has adversely affected 40,000 people in Oxford, a quarter of our population
- all the people who said they would send in an objection to the planning application. At the time of writing this blog, there is still time for anyone to put in an objection. See the page on the website for help.
- all the people who kindly made a donation - everything gratefully received, including the girl who unprompted emptied her purse with all its pocket money into the goldfish collecting bowl. It's very touching, and brings home just how much people of all ages feel cheated by the City Council, who should be looking after the health and fitness of all of us.
- everyone who supported the Campaign and Blue Dog as we worked our way down Cowley Road.
We were astonished at the very obvious and palpable embarrassment shown by a number of Labour councillors, as they were confronted with their decision to close Temple Cowley Pools - they seemed very disturbed to be reminded of what they had done, and the far-reaching consequences that have affected so many people.
On the other hand, we appreciate Cllr Linda Smith who visited our stall and asked what she can do to help matters. We look forward to meeting her and discussing exactly what could be done.This is the first time any Labour councillor has actually approached us in this way - we will report back on what happens.
|Posted on July 11, 2016 at 5:15 PM||comments (0)|
A fantastic result for people power in Abingdon, and a council prepared to listen to what the people want. News via the BBC that Abbey Meadow Outdoor Pool in Abingdon, due for a £600k refurbishment, will actually be completely replaced as it comes to its "end of life". A petition, signed by 2,200 people, submitted in 2015 to the Vale of White Horse District Council, led to a reprieve for the facility that was threatened with complete closure. Contrast this with the abysmal behaviour of our dear Oxford City District Council. The largest petition in the history of the city, over 12,000 signatures, made zero difference to their shabby decision to close Temple Cowley Pools. As a result, 40,000 people, a quarter of Oxford, can no longer walk, cycle, or take practical public transport to take exercise in a public leisure centre. Disgraceful dictatorship, and complete lack of empathy from Labour councillors whose only legacy will be the £13m bill for a new pool at Blackbird Leys that started leaking inside a year, and the controversial closure of Temple Cowley Pools. Well done Vale of White Horse Council - roll on a county unitary authority, where sensible councillors will provide services for the people and not just pander to their political masters.
|Posted on July 7, 2016 at 3:20 PM||comments (0)|
Our thanks go to the mighty Oxfordshire Guardian, who featured the Save Temple Cowley Pools Campaign on their front page. Brilliant.
And some interesting quotes on the inside - the City Council refuse to "confirm or deny" that the Blackbird Leys swimming pool roof is leaking. We know it is, because we've seen it leaking when it rains, and we have the pictures to prove it. Remember, the City Council and the sheeple Labour Councillors playing 'follow my leader' continually condemned the Temple Cowley Pools building for being at "end of life" and "at risk of catastrophic failure". While we demonstrated clearly and repeatedly that every accusation was a combination of inaccurate, incomplete, misleading and untrue.
Well, even the demolition team on site at the moment are saying there's nothing wrong with Temple Cowley Pools, built in 1986, while the shiny new one at Blackbird Leys, opened in 2015, clearly does have things wrong with it. The wrong size (only 25m), the wrong place (on a 20mph residential estate away from the rest of East Oxford) and the wrong facilities. And it leaks.
All costing us, the taxpayers, over £13m when TCP could have been completely refurbished by the Council for £3m. Or handed to us to run at no expense to the public purse. Shame on the City Council, the senior officers paid so much to run it so badly, and the Labour Councillors who vote for the party rather than the people they have been elected to represent. They all need to do the right thing, before the building is gone; and they are forced to rebuild it when Catalyst's planning application does not get approval...
|Posted on February 21, 2016 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
Yes, another one. This time in Chard, Somerset. Apparently £1m to fix the roof, or £3.5m for a new pool. Oh, sorry, what was that? £3.5m? Not the £13m+ figure it cost Oxford taxpayers to build the 25m pool in Blackbird Leys? A reminder that the SaveTCP cic would take over Temple Cowley Pools and operate it at no cost to the public purse and Oxford council taxpayers, working with a leisure and housing organisation to bring it back into profitable use and build houses, 50% social. At least in Chard, the council is looking for someone to take it over as a community asset - why didn't Oxford City Council do that? Read more about Chard here.
|Posted on February 21, 2016 at 9:20 AM||comments (0)|
Now, where have we heard this term before? Oh yes, Labour-controlled Oxford City Council, who decided against public opinion that they were going to close Temple Cowley Pools. Get an "independent" and "expert" opinion written, then use it to deflect any opposition. This is exactly what's happened in South Hunsley, in Yorkshire. Yet another pool under threat - with the nearest 6 miles away. Of course, Oxford City Council's problem was that after commissioning not one, but TWO, independent reports, both reports said there was nothing wrong with Temple Cowley Pools that a bit of tlc wouldn't cure. Not good enough for our dear council, who proceeded to bury them while they steamrollered all the evidence the public produced showing what a good building Temple Cowley Pools still is. Mace, the programme managers of the new pool scheme, unearthed one of the reports for an appendix to their study which recommended replacement - so it wasn't even taken notice of then. But it comprised about half the Mace Study's pages, so obviously justified the £600k that Mace trousered for replaying what the Council wanted to hear.
See more here, and on the Friends of South Hunsley Facebook page
|Posted on February 20, 2016 at 2:05 PM||comments (0)|
Always good to have a picture of the Glorious Leader - from the Oxford Mail:
This is a 'stock' photo of Cllr Price that gets rolled out every time they revisit the 'must concrete over between here and Abingdon' theme. This time the City Council is spending £400,000 of our money on preparing its case to oppose South Oxfordshire District Council, who, surprisingly enough, don't have building houses on the Green Belt in their plan. Of course, if anyone dare challenge the City Council's plan and want to do something different, then they spare no expense (with our money, and zero governance, openness or transparency) in opposing it. Who would have thought our City Council is controlled by Labour - not working in Oxford for the people.
The City Council use the SHMA (Strategic Housing Market Assessment) to justify all the houses it says need to be built. There is ZERO evidence that building more houses in Oxford will help the housing crisis. Without rent controls, or a mandate on who will be able to own any new houses, the 'market' will win; Oxford is highly desirable and most new homes will be snapped up by people from outside the area. Housing prices are so high in Oxford that very few people, and certainly not the people who need them at the lower end of the income scale currently existing in Oxford or being forced to commute ever longer distances, are able to buy.
The SHMA was rigged by the planning department at the City Council, then headed by Michael Crofton-Briggs (who we need to remember assaulted a disabled Campaign member, but never held to account by the Council who ignored their own HR policies). The SHMA originally published by Central Government showed a drop in demand for housing in Oxford City by 2020. This makes sense, since house prices are going up, and will become out of the reach of the vast majority of people. But that didn't fit the City Council view of the world; so they argued that they, and only they, should use a different set of figures and ended up with a demand for 32,000 homes. Even their own forecast shows that there's only space for 10,000 more homes in Oxford City (although where they think they will come from heaven only knows). So the answer? Make the City bigger by building on the Green Belt - without tackling the underlying cause of the problem! Brilliant.
And where's all the infrastructure going to come from, let alone the jobs that all these monied people who are the only ones going to buy the houses? The City is focused on houses, not the consequences; and on top of that profits as well. On the new estate at Barton, the Council has ignored the very valid concerns of the people of Northway, whose Labour (!) councillors have an empathy bypass and simply parrot the party line rather than standing up for their constituents. And the profit motive there is ever more apparent. The City Council switched the ownership of the Barton land into the joint venture it has formed with the biggest landowner in the country - a plot for 900 houses, for only £900,000! They will make money through the value of the houses that are sold - so are happy that the house prices go up even more. And social housing? Well,they caved in only too readily from the 50% mandate - now only 40% of the new houses will be social, and we can see that figure coming down even more as the developers complain they can't make enough money.
|Posted on February 15, 2016 at 4:20 PM||comments (0)|
One of the addresses from last week's Council meeting included a letter from a member of the public to Andrew Smith, Labour MP for Oxford East, who had said over Christmas that he thought having a swimming pool in Cowley would be a good idea. Shame his local party ignored the public and closed Temple Cowley Pools in December 2014. Here's Heather reading out her letter at the Council meeting. The sound is not brilliant, so there's a transcript of her letter below the video.
I am delighted to hear that you are still supporting a local swimming pool for East Oxford residents.
I have a newspaper cutting I keep and treasure of you beaming with delight as you jump into the 1986 Temple Cowley pool with three fellow Councillors. It would be lovely to be able to see you re-enact that leap.
My whole family from my young niece to her 90 year old granny treasure the pools at Temple Cowley. Generations of us have used these pools for fun, to keep fit, for exercise, for learning, for friendship and community.
We have gone there pregnant, with aqua-natal classes to keep us exercising, our bumps buoyed up by the water, making invaluable new friends to share our first experience of maternity.
We have taken our newborns for aqua-babies and ducklings; we and our children have attended swimming classes, from our first attempts to keep afloat to strenuous lengths timed against the clock.
We have learned personal survival and life-saving skills to care for ourselves and benefit our communities.
We have met friends in one of the heartbreakingly few locations where all ages can come together in the same place, young, old, with children and without. We have celebrated our children's birthdays with swimming parties and pirate ships.
It is the last place I saw my dear friend Jacquie Porter, who did so much for Oxford and has the home in Rectory Road named after her, before she so sadly died.
It is not just a pool. It is a place which has played a fundamental role in Oxford lives for decades and has an important place in all our hearts.
We need places like this. We need them where we can walk to them and cycle to them. They need to be in the community, not miles outside the ring road. We need to be reducing the amount of traffic on the roads, not increasing it.
Temple Cowley Pools is no more than a ten-minute cycle ride each way from East Oxford. Blackbird Leys is too far to cycle, especially with children, and by bus or car is well over an hour's round trip, given the amount of traffic on the roads.
Please, please, on behalf of me and my two children and my mother and countless other Oxford residents, please do everything you can to ensure that we in East Oxford once again have access to a local swimming pool.
And if there is anything you can do to delay the wanton destruction of the finest pool in Oxford, with the widest choice of changing facilities, the best water quality, the loveliest views of sky and sunset ... please do so NOW!