New Temple Cowley Pools & Fitness Centre!
*** Time to Bring this Back *** Bear With Us While We Update ***
It is now January 2014 - the ban remains in place. There was no contact from Fusion after three months, and the Campaign is now in touch to arrange a meeting to discuss how this completely innocent person can start using public leisure centres in Oxford again.
The Council, after considering the matter, washed its hands completely of the whole matter; this is despite Fusion claiming that the ban was enforced with the Council's agreement. Apparently they want nothing to do with a subcontractor, who they have employed to deliver exactly the same service previously delivered through the Council, who abuses a member of the public. And Fusion, registered as a charity as a tax avoidance scam, don't even have a formal complaints procedure!
At the time of writing the entry below, early November 2013, a member of the Campaign had been banned indefinitely since the end of September from entering any Fusion facility.
On 23rd September 2013, a member of the Campaign was banned "until further notice" by Fusion, who operate the City Council's Leisure Centres, from using TCP. It seems she was banned simply for talking to people about the Council's proposed closure of the centre. She had been told by staff, on a number of occasions, that she was not allowed to speak to the public! A ludicrous demand! This is an attack on freedom of speech and the right of a member of the public to use public leisure facilities. There are lots of other issues, including the consequences on a person who is registered disabled and diagnosed with MS; stress and lack of regular exercise (now denied to her by Fusion) has seriously affected her health.
This is an outrageous abuse of power by Fusion, who have taken the action without any discussion with the person concerned. We have politely over a period of weeks tried to find out why they banned her, but no explanation has been provided. All this time we have been met with either silence, or threats when asking Fusion to deal reasonably with the issue.
Fusion has always been annoyed that the Campaign is discussed by anybody inside TCP; they have never been able to give a reason why, but some of their staff have victimised one person in particular. This victimisation and continuing harassment includes shouting at her in front of other members of the public (to stop talking about the campaign and the council's plan to close TCP), complaining to the police that she has been "begging" in TCP (the police don't agree), arguing with her at poolside that she owes 11p (!) when they have just given a receipt for the full entry fee, alleging that she has tampered with 'literature' (while not providing any evidence), inventing complaints from members of the public (no evidence provided, although we've been contacted by annoyed members of the public who have been asked by staff if they have been annoyed!), and accused of talking to members of the public...
We shouldn't be surprised. For a Campaign that is apparently dead and buried because the new pool in Blackbird Leys has started construction, this is an extraordinary move by Fusion, apparently carried out with the agreement of the Council. Why are they so concerned that they fabricate a ban? Is it that the powers that be continue to be embarrassed by the huge amount of support for the Campaign?
There are clearly vested interests at work:
- Fusion stands to increase profits by only running one centre, rather than three where people want them, and getting rid of over thirty staff
- the Council has always said it wants to sell off the land, we believe to feed the house-building frenzy (completely unjustified by the facts) happening all over East Oxford
- the person in Fusion responsible for imposing this unjustified ban is Regional Manager Francois Smit, who just happens to be a member of the Swimming Club which wants TCP closed and the new pool built - no conflict of interest there then.
Fusion has refused point blank to consider any complaint against its staff for their appalling behaviour, that would not be tolerated if this was still a council-run service.
This attempt to intimidate and victimise one member of the public is unjustified, unwarranted and a complete abuse of power. As a subcontractor to the City Council, Fusion should have a published complaints process (they don't) and should be doing their job of properly maintaining TCP and being civil and polite to the public (clearly they aren't).
Would you believe it?
Looking back over the course of the campaign, we've seen a number of incidents happening to different members of our campaign team. We can't believe that all these things could occur simply because we, as a completely non-violent organisation looking openness and honesty from our local politicians and City Council officers. Here's the list, just so that everyone is aware what has been happening: You have to ask, why, if there is nothing underhand going on, have people been quite so keen to stop us having our say, or simply making our voice heard?
Democratic rights cut Part 1 - Constitution changed so that any questions to the City Executive Board meetings have to be in within 36 hours of them publishing the agenda, and what can be asked considerably reduced. No longer allowed to ask questions, just written responses given.
Democratic rights cut Part 2 - Constitution changed so that the FULL TEXT of an address has to be submitted in advance for censoring by council officers before people can speak to their elected representatives.
Campaign member's bike has been vandalised, twice in two days - the 'Save Temple Cowley Pools' posters were ripped off.
Senior Council Officer attacks disabled Campaigner in Council Meeting. During a break in a Planning Meeting, a member of the public was subjected to unwanted physical 'interaction'. The consequence has been the onset of a serious medical condition that is life-threatening. When we brought this to the attention of the general public previously, we were subject to legal threats. According to the lawyers, this disabled, defenceless member of the public, attacked from behind, merely "misinterpreted the way in which he was trying to attract her attention". Hmm. Following police advice, a private prosecution remains pending.
Campaign members received anonymous phone call.
The Council machine operated full on to try and stop us makin
g our addresses at Full Council meeting - only the intervention of the Mayor ensured our democratic voice could be heard.
Campaign members have been threatened by the Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer just before making addresses at the start of a Full Council Meeting.
Campaign members have been banned from talking about the proposed closure to other users while inside Temple Cowley Leisure Centre.
Campaign members have been ordered not to talk to users outside Temple Cowley Leisure Centre.
An FOI request to see the contract between Fusion and the Council took 9 months to get just the framework of the contract released, despite us pointing out a clause in it where both Fusion and the Council agreed to release anything that was requested. This cloak of secrecy about numbers and what is driving the move to the proposed new swimming pool wouldn't be there without Fusion as operators.
Campaign member's address to Full Council in December 2011 censored in advance. The 'redacted' words were simply what the Council had published on its website concerning a Labour councillor's assault on the campaign member at a council meeting. At the address in Council, the Labour members stage managed a walkout and a suspension of the meeting.
+ + S T O P . P R E S S + +
...8TH PETITION @Full Council on 29th September - 7pm Town Hall - come and support...
Quote of the Day
These comments have been made by real people, who use Temple Cowley Pools & Leisure Centre. These are the things that the City Council is ignoring! Want to have your say? For your chance to be in Quote of the Day, email us at [email protected] with your opinion.
"You lot are doing the wrong thing - why do you want to stop us in Blackbird Leys from having a new pool? It'll be bigger and better, Olympic size... ...what do you mean, only the same as at Temple Cowley now? Well, I don't want it in Blackbird Leys then, why is the Council doing that? A waste of money - I've been on the housing list for over 12 years, that's what I want, not a pool... Good luck, keep Temple Cowley Pool open!"
"I'm a regular user of the pool and gym - access is easy for so many people a the location is on good bus routes. As far as I can see the pool is well used by a huge range of people , many of whom will not have easy access if it moves to the proposed site in Blackbird Leys. We need to keep encouraging people to be active for their heath as well as their pleasure so putting facilities further from the reach of many is not the way to go . "
Feedback from someone at the Peggy Seeger Concert at the Indian Room:
"after last night I just wanted to pass on my congratulations to everyone involved in organising and publicising the event. It was brilliant! I was amazed at the number of people there, and enjoyed myself immensely..."
and the previous QoTD from the recent Oxford Women's Conference was...
"mens sana in corpore sano - if you want healthy people who don't put a strain on the NHS budgets - keep the pool & fitness centre"
And the previous QotD was...
"...I have 4 children and 2 of them can go swimming without me if it gets moved then they won't be able to go there on their own also there is not much here in Cowley to keep kids active..."
See previous quotes here
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