Buying a swimming pool complex for £1 - Our Journey

Fighting back

This is story of how a community decided to stand up for itself.

Last year (2011) the local council decided to close a swimming pool and sports hall in Alva.

Thanks to social networking a Facebook site was set up in conjunction with a petition. One of the organisers, a local resident, soon found out that this was far bigger than she first realised. Within a few days the petition had over 1000 signatures and the facebook site had hundreds of members.

By the time of submission the petition had over 5000 signatures. The Council at that time seemed intent on closing it despite the major campaign to fight for the facility. In June 2011, just when the schools break up for holidays they closed the facility, which is a pool and games hall. The facility was marked to be demolished.

The campaigners had now got a bit more organised and had established a group called Ochil Leisure Enterprises. As a last lifeline the Council offered the group 8 weeks (which was later extended to 12 weeks.) to come up with a business plan.

As anyone who knows about such things, a business plan for a venture like this normally takes 6 - 12 months. So this was a tall order.

Fortunately for the group, they managed to get the free help of community organisation Community Enterprise and the issue was also mentioned in the Scottish Parliament.

The group, all volunteers, had highs and lows. The option left was an asset transfer which meant that it would become a community run business. This is an exciting opportunity but hard work for mums and people who have full time jobs. Throughout the months there were lots of times when we thought we were fighting a losing battle.

The final decision took place in November last year. To the amazement of the group, there was a sudden change of heart to our business plan and the Council agreed to sell it to the group for £1. Furthermore the Council agreed to give the group the £100000 that they had budgeted for the demolition.

Not the end of the story

If truth be told, the pool is not transferred yet. The change in Council leadership means that the legalities have not been finalised. Even when Ochil Leisure does receive the keys to doors, there is still a lot of work to do.

The facility needs to be refurbished and funding needs secured. The building has been moth balled for several months...but it can and will have new life in it.

As a community member, I wanted my kids to swim and lead a healthy lifestyle. I am glad I fought for this with other members of the community. This does mean a lot of work but I am glad our community raised its game and fought a bad decision.

On the 3rd of July 2012 after months of legal talk we finally took possession of the sports centre and pool. The community group now have the keys. This week (Aug 27) we are having nice new cubicles installed with thanks to 2 grant funders....The day when we have the public in and the doors open is getting closer...

More by this Author


No comments yet.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article