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Oxford City Council has created a 'blue hole' by closing Temple Cowley Pools - anyone living in this area is forced to travel more than 20 minutes to get to a publicly funded leisure centre. This, according to the Council's own figures, affects 40,000 people - a quarter of Oxford.

What's this Blue Hole thing then?

The Campaign to Save Temple Cowley Pools showed the area of Oxford that would be affected by the Council's closure of the centre. This is described on page 17 of the proposal we submitted to the Council in 2014. An Appendix to the proposal examined the health consequences of closure, and the consequent costs to the NHS and other local services.

And what does it mean?

  • We clearly identified the consequences of closure:
  • Having to take more time to get to a leisure centre
  • More people using cars rather than public transport or bicycles or walking - increased carbon emissions
  • Increased cost of getting to a leisure centre
  • People not going as frequently or at all
  • Less independence for children as they have to be taken rather than going themselves
  • Reduction in health as people don't go as frequently
  • Reduction in Social Cohesion as groups of local people don't meet regularly or at all
  • Reduction in health and independence of elderly and infirm, leading to...
  • ...increased pressure on social services and cost to the NHS
  • Increase in crime
  • Increased crowding and pressure on the surrounding public leisure centres, as people are forced to use them
  • We asked the Council to track what happened after closure to people who used to use Temple Cowley Pools - they have refused. So we surveyed the people we are still in contact with - guess what? All these things have happened.

Who's affected?

Truth is the Council doesn't actually know - or seem to care. They didn't do any analysis when producing their 5 year Leisure Strategy - and the Council Statistician doesn't hold any figures that directly map onto the affected area. So we used the numbers and areas the Statistician could provide, and worked it out ourselves - approximately 40,000 people are in the Blue Hole - that's a quarter of Oxford's population.

And the Council's view?

They show no signs of caring about the people in the Blue Hole. There is a Council policy, CS21, in its Core Strategy, which clearly states that if any leisure centre is closed, it must be replaced in the area with facilities at least as good as those being closed. And a condition taken on by the Council when granting planning permission for the new pool at Blackbird Leys was that they would find an alternative.

Hasn't anything been done for the Cowley area?

The Council would argue that:

  1. The new pool at Blackbird Leys replaces Temple Cowley Pools because it's 'close'. To anyone in East Oxford, Blackbird Leys and Cowley are two very distinct areas, and the new pool cannot be seen as a 'replacement'. People will go if they are forced to, but it is not where they would go by choice (that, of course, is Temple Cowley Pools).
  2. They have provided new facilities at Spires Academy - the school has a new gym, and the Council has invested £500,000 and awarded the contract to run the gym to Fusion, who run the public leisure centres for the Council. Except it's a different contract, and you can't use your Slice Card or get concessionary rates there. And, as the Council obviously haven't noticed, it doesn't have a swimming pool, and YOU CAN'T SWIM IN A GYM!