The Campaign to Save Temple Cowley Pools has been a fixture in the community for over ten years, trying to keep exercise local to Temple Cowley.
We are still here, but we are changing…
The New Temple Cowley Pools Campaign is up and running!
It’s been nearly four years since Temple Cowley Pools closed in December 2014. The history of the Campaign to keep TCP open is on the website, and we are now looking to the future. The need for a swimming pool and gym complex in Temple Cowley is still there, more than ever. Over 40,000 people live within sensible walking and cycling distance of the Temple Cowley Pools site, and we all need the opportunity to exercise regularly to stay as fit and independent.
What do we want? The New Temple Cowley Pools will be a leisure centre incorporating everything we used to have in Temple Cowley and more, easily accessible by walking, cycling or public transport. Swimming pool, diving pool, gym, sauna/steam suite, café, community hub.
Why do we want it? The health benefits of regular exercise are recognised for people of all ages and abilities, and people should be able to get to where they want to exercise easily – a short bus ride, cycling or walking. And research shows if people need to travel for more than 20 minutes to get there, they don’t go, or don’t go as frequently. It must be in Temple Cowley.
Where will it be? The City Council’s Marsh Road Depot is an ideal location, situated next to a park, and easily accessible to the people of Temple Cowley and everyone else across Oxford who used to go to Temple Cowley Pools.
When will this happen? The City Council has temporary permission for the Marsh Road site for four years – during this time we can carry out all the necessary planning and get the vital funding necessary.
How will this all work? We recognise that the City Council needs to focus on spending in other areas, so we will work with them and other partners, and look to fund the new centre through a combination of crowdfunding, grants and other innovative means.
Our petition was 'debated' in Council on Monday. Thanks to everyone who's signed, we look forward to the Labour Councillors actually debating it.
The key point we made was that the Council's closure and demolition of Temple Cowley Pools has left an area of 40,000 people who cannot walk or cycle sensibly to a public leisure centre. We call this the "Blue Hole".
And we use the term 'debate' loosely here. Labour as usual couldn't be bothered to engage; instead of addressing the points we made and engaging with us. Councillor Smith read out a long (interminable some would say) list of statistics proving that the Blue Hole doesn't exist. She 'proposed' that Council merely "note" the petition.
Some people do 'get it' - shame they aren't in power, but we look forward to when they are, because then there's a chance that this Council will actually do something that the people want. So, our thanks to Cllr Craig Simmons of the Greens, who took our point about our survey showing so few Temple Cowley Pools Users exercising as frequently or at all nowadays compared to when the centre was open. He suggested to Cllr Smith that not only should the petition be noted, but that the Council should do its own survey of TCP users. This was supported by the LibDem leader Cllr Gant. But then confusion reigned as a vote was taken, not helped by the Mayor who seemed to want to rush on to other things; it wasn't clear that the vote was for noting only, and not doing a survey. Labour couldn't be bothered to do anything more, and insisted that the vote was only for noting the petition, so they moved on to less embarrassing territory.
The petition reads:
OXFORD CITY COUNCIL MUST FIX THE BLUE HOLE THEY HAVE CREATED
We the undersigned, call on Oxford City Council to address the loss of health, fitness and exercise facilities in the 'Blue Hole', caused by the Labour-led City Council's closure of Temple Cowley Pools in December 2014, and extended for five years in the Leisure and Wellbeing Strategy 2015-2020 adopted in September 2015.
Now in our EIGHTH year of campaigning, with massive continuing public support - the City Council wanted Temple Cowley Pools shut over five years ago, but you all helped keep TCP open until December 2014. During that additional time users enjoyed more than half a million more visits, we exposed the Council propaganda as a combination of Inaccurate, Incomplete, Misleading and Untrue, and played our part in getting the right to video at Council meetings. The image shows the community proposal that the Council rejected - housing combined with a leisure centre and community shared space, at no cost to the taxpayer.
The decision to sell the site to a commercial developer, Catalyst, was taken at the end of 2014 and the Labour Council has closed and destroyed yet another facility in Cowley. The exact conditions in the contract remain murky, demonstrating yet again the lack of openness and transparency when Oxford City Council decides not to work with the public they are there to serve.
But the Campaign continues towards 2018, challenging the decisions, confronting the propaganda and working every way we can so that the community can again have the facilities it wants and needs, where it wants and needs them, in Cowley.
The Save Temple Cowley Pools Campaign has been fighting since 2009 to keep open the Temple Cowley Pools & Fitness Centre in Temple Road, Oxford, condemned to closure by Oxford City Council. The Council rushed to close the site at 4pm on 23rd December 2014, without any notice to the public, and boarded up the centre with people still swimming in it!
Support for the Campaign was immediate and huge, demonstrated through the first petition that reached over 12,000 signatures before we stopped - the largest in Oxford, simply ignored by the administration. We've continued with a succession of petitions that show people's frustration with the City Council. Petition number 8 was debated at the Council meeting in November 2014.
During December 2014, the Council continued to defy public opinion, voting in an all-Labour City Executive Board meeting to go with a commercial developer wanting to put 47 dwellings and 53 car park spaces on the site. Our community Social Enterprise proposal, presented by the SaveTCP community interest company, was dismissed without any public discussion, and without us being told what the council would find acceptable. Our proposal represents £20m annual value delivered to the community, and the council has defied its voters and shown it is simply not interested. The Greens called in the decision to Scrutiny Committee on 23rd December, and despite Green and LibDem support, the 3 councillors were not about to turn over the well managed and "on message" 8 Labour councillors who knew what they had to do, so the decision stands - for now.
At 4pm on the 23rd December 2014 the Council closed TCP - since then all that has happened, during summer 2016 was that the Council instructed Catalyst to demolish the site, ensuring that the community could not take over and operate the centre for the public good and at no expense to the public purse. the Campaign continues to challenge the Council decisions and work to keep and replace the facilities the Cowley community wants and needs, where they want and need them.
Please browse these pages for lots more information and background. Send us an email at [email protected] for any questions, comments and/or to add your name to our email list.
We also appear on Twitter @SaveTCP (see rhs of this page for our Twitter feed) and on Facebook.
Get involved! All your Labour councillors are ignoring the views of the people they were elected to serve. The Council needs to be constantly challenged because it is determined to get its way and is continually putting out information that we demonstrate time and again is a combination of MISLEADING, INACCURATE, INCOMPLETE and UNTRUE.
Thursday 29th November - Growth Board - they'll be discussing housing, the OxCam link, and the effect of the Budget on Councils. 2pm in the Old Library
18th August 2018 - great day out at Elder Stubbs Festival, launching the New Temple Cowley Pools Campaign.
SAVETCP CIC is a Community Interest Company registered in the United Kingdom with the Company reg no 09002684. Registered address is Oxford Greenprint Room 1/oarc East Oxford Community Centre, Princes Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom. Further information here