Hackney Council to Re-open Haggerston Pool?

The council has publicly announced that it intends to “explore options to bring [Haggerston] pool back into use under public ownership”.

This is to be welcomed.

Since its closure in February 2000, Haggerston Pool Users’ Group has campaigned hard for the reopening of the pool as a community facility, organizing demonstrations, lobbies, tv and media coverage, Open House and the Laburnum Street Party – all without support from Hackney Council, which has been justifiably embarrassed by their efforts.

When the council has lowered itself to offer help – most recently by advertising the street party in Hackney Today – it has de-politicised the issue, failing to acknowledge the campaign’s existence. It was, after all, a political decision to close this pool, while wasting millions of pounds on the disastrous Clissold Leisure Centre development.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the council is exploring options for the reopening of the pool without involving the Users’ Group.

As Hackney Independent has pointed out on numerous occasions, New Labour’s idea of ‘consultation’ is to make a decision and then only to listen to opinions from local interest groups if they agree with what they have already decided. Otherwise those opinions are ignored.

New Labour talks the talk about ‘local involvement’, ‘consultation’ and ‘community empowerment’, but notoriously fails to walk the walk. Hackney Council is a prime offender.

Mike Coysh, Chair of Haggerston Pool Community Trust, puts it succinctly when he says, “We welcome any moves to look at the possibility of re-opening the pool, but are disappointed that yet again a study has been commissioned without the involvement of the local community and the Pool Trust”.