Team Moregeous are a little busy this week with Campaign Fever. We’ve got involved with the Save Withington Baths Campaign along with many, many other local residents passionate about our community pool and leisure centre. It’s amazingly well used, packed all the time, a beautiful building, great staff, in the centre of the community & easily walked to by most users, but most importantly, it has heart. At over 100yrs old and still going strong, it embodies everything about community, something being eroded day after day in our busy lives. Yes it’s a little shabby around the edges, but not everyone wants brand spanking shiny new chrome & glass, and there’s nothing that some sensible and deserved investment wouldn’t cure.
I’ve heard so many stories over this last week: pensioners whose social life revolve around the centre, an 80yr old who’s been swimming there for 70yrs, heart attack victims who’ve got back to full strength with their daily local swim, breast cancer sufferers who don’t want the publicness of large centres and for whom frequent exercise gently stretches mastectomy & lymph node removal scars, children with autism and Aspergers who can’t cope with the noisy echoes of aquatic centres but who love the quiet charm of a smaller pool, children who enjoy their weekly visit with school and weekend morning visits with families and where they simply know everybody, a disabled lady who struggles to walk but has the confidence to visit Withington as everyone knows and helps her, students who can’t afford fancy gym membership but rely on walking to the fitness centre and the affordable entry prices, parents happy to let their children walk the few hundred yards round to the pool with friends without the need for a car journey or a chaperone – the list goes on and on and on.
How can we even think about allowing thriving facilities such as these to close? We ALL watched the Olympics & Paralympics last year and felt motivated, energised and inspired by what we saw, how can we stand by and watch sports centres, pools and gyms be closed down around us before new ones are even in the planning stage?!
In July 2012 Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council said that: “ Manchester’s Commonwealth Games were so successful they restored our national sporting reputation. Be in no doubt, London would not be hosting this year’s Olympics if it had not been for our success 10 years ago.” Is this same man happy to ensure that children, young people, the disabled, the sick, pensioners and everyone else in our communities reliant on their perfectly useable sports facilities have nowhere to train, swim or exercise for up to three years… and that’s presuming the new centres proposed are even built.
And as for David Cameron, in a joint statement with Boris Johnson he claimed today that “Six months on we are putting as much focus on the legacy of the Games as we did on delivering the Games in the first place, and by learning the lessons of the past we will make sure that the greatest Olympic and Paralympic Games ever really do benefit our entire country for generations to come.” Really Mr Cameron? By not protecting community sporting and leisure facilities before imposing millions of pounds worth of cuts on our city and other around the country?
Is this Manchester’s Olympic Legacy? Is this the UK’s Olympic Legacy?