Sunday 4 September 2005 1.05pm
Interesting. There is no doubt that the area needs an accessible public pool to replace the one at the Elephant which closed about five years back. There is nothing for an area covering from Bermonsey to Stockwell and down to Camberwell. Though a pity for adults it is also a real problem for schools, and for local kids. Another reason for them to hang out rather than do something constructive during the long summer holidays.
But I never felt that Doon Street
was the solution:
1. The proposal I heard about was for a 25 meter lap pool. So not particularly suitable for children.
2. For many people, especially the less well off, the South Bank does not belong to them. It is genuinely amazing how many people have never been there even though they live within walking distance. A pool dominated by local officer workers would not feel welcoming to some of those who cannot afford to access private facilities.
3. Public transport to the Elephant from throughout the catchment area is good. This is not true for Doon Street
My understanding was that the project would cost £10 million. There are various bits of S106 funding tied up in other developments, plus presumably some sports funding etc. Losing £1 million is significant however I wonder whether the end of the Waterloo and CRP SRBs in April 06 is also having an impact. (Would it be easier to blame Shell?)
Two bits of gossip. Someone I know within CRP is experiencing some interesting courting from the developer behind Doon St. My advice has been to enjoy the experience, but also try to find out the reason behind it. I felt there was bound to be one. This could well be it.
Second I have been invited to a 'Shell Global Scenarios Presentation' in late September. Despite its name is is aimed at providing 'those with a London focus' with a presentaiton on Shell's latest thinking on the future. I do hope James and Rabbie are also invited. Happy to provide contact details if either want to cadge and invitation. I wonder if this is linked with a wish to provide the Shell side of any story.
What I would to happen is a much more open discussion about swimming facilities. Every survey for years has confirmed that accessible swimming is wanted. We could invite Lambth and Southwark Planning authorities and their sports people, and people who own things like the Shell pool, Southbank University and people from schools and more. It ought not be too difficult to pin down what the need is, what sites might be available, and future funding. (Eg given the loss of playing field land from the old Lilian Baylis site some contribution to a pool for the area would be grand. ) Ideally this would allow any funding for Doon Street
to then be transferred into a more community friendly alternative.
This could be the first ever SE1 Direct community seminar?
My seven year old is a promising swimmer. She can already do 50 meters Butterfly. (Quite why you would want to is another issue.) Within two terms, eg before she is eight, she is likely to have gone through the 12 levels of Amateur Swimming Association exams. There will be other kids like her all over the area who both love swimming and who are showing genuine promise. One of them might be a future National or Olympic Champion. But the next stage of finding a club for her is proving really hard. I have been recommended Putney, or somewhere near Lewisham. Given that my juggling of kids and work is already pretty poor this probably won't happy. For her and probably for others in the same boat. (As it is, the journey home from Clapham Manor who do the ASA training is two buses. Miserable on a wet winter evening.) Our Olyimpic bid promised investment in youth........