Thursday, 16 March 2017

Save the Community Pool

Waltham Forest College OPEN!

Waltham Forest College is considering closing the Community Pool by 2021 unless it can A) Be convinced that there is sufficient community need to keep it open. B) Be convinced that there is an educational need. Because of this possibility The Community Pool CIC cannot make investments in the site and, without investments, the cost of running The Pool is escalating.
The Community Pool is used for vital swimming lessons for local schools and it hosts Tritons swimming lessons everyday.  They also train many swimming teachers, coaches, lifeguards and pool plant operators. Swimming is a life skill. Our families are learning to swim here and other local pools are not sufficient to meet the needs of the community, in the borough.  Regular recommendations, via local social media, demonstrate the success and fast progress of swimming lessons at Tritons.  The Community Pool is invaluable to the Waltham Forest Community.  
It has been suggested that there is no educational benefit to justify keeping the Community pool open.  Two good reasons why there is most certainly an important educational need are:   A) Swimming is part of the National Curriculum.  B) As described above, the training provided by the Community Pool leads to several different careers.  Training is a form of education.
What can you do to help?
Sign and circulate this petition - By generating enough support, we can prove that there IS a community need to keep this pool open.  We, the Waltham Forest community, will present this petition to Penny Wycherley, Principal­ and­ Chief­ Executive of Waltham Forest College, to indicate how many residents not only want the pool to stay open but to have it improved and refurbished.  A revamped pool will attract more of the local community and will therefore increase revenue.
If you believe that The Pool needs not only to remain but to grow, and that the Forest Road site has the potential to be used more widely by the local community, let your Councillors and anyone else you think has influence, know your views. Stella Creasy and Clare Coghill are already in discussion with The Community Pool regarding its potential closure.
Let The Community Pool and Tritons, know if you would be willing to get involved in working together to ensure that The Community Pool continues to flourish.  Twitter:@wfcommunitypool   Facebook: The Community Pool CIC    Email:      
Please write to both Penny Wycherley (current Principal, until Aug) at Waltham Forest College and David Byrne (Principal Designate for the proposed merger of the Barnet/Southgate and Waltham Forest College - from Aug) to express your need to keep the pool open.
It is understood that with one Principal due to leave and another who has not yet technically taken on the post, they are both uneasy about giving clear answers until the transition has taken place.  This is simply not good enough.  This uncertainty is unacceptable.  Waltham Forest needs this pool for educational reasons and a real community need.
FTAO: Penny Wycherley (current Principal - until August).                             Email:
FTAO: David Byrne (Principal Designate for the proposed merger of the Barnet/Southgate and Waltham Forest College - with effect from Aug)   Email:                             Twitter: @David__Byrne1
Stella Creasy:                           Twitter: @stellacreasy
Clare Coghill:                           Twitter: @wfclare_coghill

From The Community Pool:
Long term future of the pool
Waltham Forest College have stated that the "space currently occupied by the pool" is being considered for redevelopment and that there is "a likelihood" that The College will enact the break clause on the Pool’s lease at the earliest opportunity i.e. February 2019. The Community Pool will then have two years to vacate the premises.
If this happens the value of the redevelopment, which is completely unfunded as yet, will have to be set against the £300,000 that has already been spent on the pool, the 22 salaried jobs that will go, the similar number of casual workers, the 15 schools that have their swimming lessons here, the seven clubs and the 3500+ weekly pool users. Also the lifeguard training, the courses for swimming teachers, coaches and pool plant operators that we run.
The planning blight that is now affecting us is preventing investment in the pool. We cannot invest in energy saving technology or implement the major redevelopment plans that we have had prepared by Space and Plan architects. This is incredibly frustrating as we have access to funds and a major backer in place.
Can you help us to convey the message that there is a need for The Community Pool and that this has not been negated by the re-opening of the Feelgood Centre. The Community Pool and Pool & Track (now The Feelgood Centre) have run in tandem for a long time and address different needs - even in the area we overlap, our lesson programme, we have grown 3% spring term 2017 compared to spring term 2016 and the programme at The Feelgood Centre is also expanding - the borough is growing.
As well as the long term concerns we have an immediate issue. In July The Community Pool CIC was informed that the College were cutting their core hours of operation and that they expected The Community Pool to pick up the bill for opening outside their new core hours. They quoted a figure of £50,000 pa. A group of pool users including Tritons Swim School asked if we could have access to unused facilities at The College outside the core hours in order to generate income to cover this additional expense eg sport hall, classrooms, lecture theatre etc (apart from anything else the fact that a site which has had over £8 million spent on it since 2012 is sitting empty evenings and weekends is just wrong), the College trustees gave provisional approval to this idea. We secured finance to set this up and started working on a contract to run out of hours provision on a profit share basis with the College. The Community Pool CIC were asked to start paying the £50,000pa immediately, which it did, without passing the charge on to hirers.
During the Autumn term we were told that the contract would not be signed as merger negotiations were progressing and no contracts would now be entered into by Waltham Forest College that would compromise their strategic property portfolio. The lack of a contract meant that we could not access the funding that we had secured (£30,000 secured with the possibility of £200,000). We have been trying to open up negotiations with the incoming management team and put in place an interim agreement. In the meantime the Community Pool reserves have been running down.
At the beginning of February the College came back to The Community Pool saying that they had miscalculated the cost of opening the site outside core hours and it was actually £75,000 pa. This comes on top of an utility bill increase of £40,000 pa that the College is saying is due to previous miscalculations.
The Community Pool can no longer operate without passing these cost on to pool hirers.
This petition will be delivered to:

  • Waltham Forest College
  • Principal­ and­ Chief­ Executive
    Penny Wycherley
  • Principal Designate for the proposed merger of the Barnet/Southgate and Waltham Forest College
    David Byrne

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