The Shameful Story of Haggerston Swimming Pool

When Haggerston Baths was closed without notice in February 2000, the local Labour Party circulated a leaflet (a rare occurrence outside of an election) reassuring residents that the pool would be reopened in six months. Shortly afterwards Labour took full control of Hackney Council, but the pool remains closed.

The Council’s given reason for shutting the pool was based on health and safety concerns requiring some £300,000 to remedy. Today, estimates for the cost of reopening the pool exceed £20 million.

Other related sums of interest are:

£50 million!

The anticipated costs of reopening Clissold Leisure Centre by Summer 2007, now closed for two and a half years following shoddy building work and contract mismanagement.

£34 million!

The anticipated cost of the Bridge Academy on the now-derelict site of the once popular Laburnum School. This is £8 million in excess of original estimates.

In February 2000 the Council claimed not to have the £300,000 necessary to undertake Health & Safety repairs, yet there appears to always be plenty of money for doomed and unpopular projects.

Hackney takes a dive…

Hackney currently has only one public swimming pool (Kings Hall recently damaged by fire). Estimates based on Sport England criteria demonstrate that Hackney should have six or seven for its population.

In the run up to the Olympics in 2012 and all the associated hoo-hah it’s a disgrace that over the last two decades Hackney Council has actually been closing pools (six since 1988). The consequences for health and education are obvious. Despite the requirements established in the national curriculum, primary school children in Hackney are unable to learn to swim here.

The future? Don’t trust Labour…

At a People’s Consultation meeting organised by the Haggerston Pool Campaign in January 2006, Labour’s cabinet member for Community Services (Cllr Nargis Khan) promised unequivocally that they were committed to the reopening of Haggerston Pool. However, promises are cheap. And there’s usually a catch.

The council have recently been debating their preferred options for Haggerston Baths. By far the better of the three is for a swimming pool and GP surgery. The remaining options include housing on the site. In February 2006 the cabinet agreed to back Option 1 (with the GP surgery) but added that housing should not be excluded from these plans.

Hackney Independent says housing should definitely be excluded from these plans. The results of our survey work, conducted on local housing estates in the years since the closure of the pool show that the vast majority want the building reopened as a public swimming pool at affordable prices.

There are enough private flats being built in the area already. The redevelopment of the Haggerston West and Kingsland Estates sees increasingly more being planned. If the council can find the money to waste on Clissold and City Academies, it can find the money to reopen Haggerston Baths as a public swimming pool.