Hole in ground to become pool and leisure complex

The Oxford Times: Parish councillors Ann Booker, left, Gordon Roper and Sheila Smith at the construction site Parish councillors Ann Booker, left, Gordon Roper and Sheila Smith at the construction site

OXFORD’S Blackbird Leys estate will be transformed over the next 12 months as the city’s new swimming pool and leisure centre takes shape.

What is now a large hole in the ground in Pegasus Road will become a £7.2m swimming pool complex due to open this December.

Work will continue over the next month to excavate pool tank areas and this includes building the pool tank linings and walls.

A system to prevent the pool hole filling with water has been installed and work has already started within the existing leisure centre including the completion of the temporary reception area which is now in use.

Work has started on the upstairs bar area, which is being turned into a multi-functional dance studio, replacing a community hall, which has been demolished so the new pool building links to the leisure centre.

For community leaders, hopes are high that the new pool will improve the estate’s economy.

Blackbird Leys Parish Council chairman Gordon Roper said: “I think it will definitely be worth the wait.

“We have been waiting for two years for work to start down there. I don’t think another 12 months will make much of a difference.

“It is definitely something for the community to look forward to.”

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He said residents were hoping the impact of the building work would be minimal.

He said: “We hope there won’t be too much disruption. We know there will be a certain amount, which I suppose people expect.

“We were worried about the parking, which doesn’t seem too bad at the moment. We will have to see what it will be like when all the heavy machinery is brought in.

“We are hoping it will be of some benefit to the local economy.

“We hope that people will come to the area and use the shops and that sort of thing, but it’s hard to tell.”

The new centre, which will include three pools, will form part of an enlarged centre, incorporating the existing building in Pegasus Road.

Work on the new facility started in July last year and schools including Windale Primary School and Mabel Prichard School visited the site towards the end of last year.

The building cost will be £7.2m, but opponents of the scheme have claimed the council will have to spend a considerable amount more if legal fees are included.

Once the new facility is up and running, the council will proceed with plans to close Temple Cowley Pools.

The authority has had planning permission for the pool since 2011 but has faced legal challenges, including two judicial reviews, over the past two years.

Opponents of the scheme have also claimed the council is wasting money on a new facility, when the existing pools at Temple Cowley and Blackbird Leys could be updated.

But the council claims the £150,000-a-year running costs at the new centre will be significantly less than the £360,000 it says it currently pays Fusion Lifestyle to run the Temple Cowley site.

Comments (16)

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8:06am Fri 3 Jan 14

Geoff Roberts says...

"But the council claims the £150,000-a-year running costs at the new centre will be significantly less than the £360,000 it says it currently pays Fusion Lifestyle to run the Temple Cowley site."

Which the council caused through neglect. If the council hadn't run the place into the ground it wouldn't have cost that. Upfront investment to offset ongoing costs. Of course, the council couldn't do that because we're broke, partly because the council is rubbish at managing property and partly because the universities are too big.

Recently, Brookes University (which the leader of the city council was HR director for) took on too many people. What this means is that we're replacing all of those old households that had council tax paying residents and local workers, with short stay non council tax paying people. What you get as a result is a big hole and not just the one in the ground. The only real winners here are big corporations such as construction companies.
"But the council claims the £150,000-a-year running costs at the new centre will be significantly less than the £360,000 it says it currently pays Fusion Lifestyle to run the Temple Cowley site." Which the council caused through neglect. If the council hadn't run the place into the ground it wouldn't have cost that. Upfront investment to offset ongoing costs. Of course, the council couldn't do that because we're broke, partly because the council is rubbish at managing property and partly because the universities are too big. Recently, Brookes University (which the leader of the city council was HR director for) took on too many people. What this means is that we're replacing all of those old households that had council tax paying residents and local workers, with short stay non council tax paying people. What you get as a result is a big hole and not just the one in the ground. The only real winners here are big corporations such as construction companies. Geoff Roberts

8:34am Fri 3 Jan 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

It'll be great when the new pool opens and welcomes all of East Oxford to enjoy a clean, modern facility.
It'll be great when the new pool opens and welcomes all of East Oxford to enjoy a clean, modern facility. Andrew:Oxford

9:08am Fri 3 Jan 14

Bart_simpsonDoh says...

Should have been open by now if it wasn't for all those idiots that wanted to keep TP open. What a complete waste of money and time.
Should have been open by now if it wasn't for all those idiots that wanted to keep TP open. What a complete waste of money and time. Bart_simpsonDoh

10:23am Sat 4 Jan 14

Sarah Lasenby says...

Why does the Oxford Mail persist in putting the wrong cost for the new pool when they have been told the correct amount?
Although the facilities this pool will have could have been built, according to Sport England figures for 2012, for around £7 - £7.5m the contract for the present build is £9.23m
Please publish a correction and stop repeating this inaccuracy.
Why does the Oxford Mail persist in putting the wrong cost for the new pool when they have been told the correct amount? Although the facilities this pool will have could have been built, according to Sport England figures for 2012, for around £7 - £7.5m the contract for the present build is £9.23m Please publish a correction and stop repeating this inaccuracy. Sarah Lasenby

10:31am Sat 4 Jan 14

Sarah Lasenby says...

Why does the Oxford Mail keep repeating the wrong price of £7.2m for the new pool when they have been told about their mistake before ?
Using Sport England 2012 prices all the facilities being built for the new pool would cost £7 - £7,5m But the contract signed for the present project is for £9.23m ! Rather a lot of difference. Was it signed in a rush?
Please print a correction about the price and stop making it seem more reasonable to build this new pool.
Why does the Oxford Mail keep repeating the wrong price of £7.2m for the new pool when they have been told about their mistake before ? Using Sport England 2012 prices all the facilities being built for the new pool would cost £7 - £7,5m But the contract signed for the present project is for £9.23m ! Rather a lot of difference. Was it signed in a rush? Please print a correction about the price and stop making it seem more reasonable to build this new pool. Sarah Lasenby

11:39am Sat 4 Jan 14

SaveTCP says...

The truth is out there. But the Council never reveals or acknowledges the whole truth, which comes from their own figures and a discussion with their Finance team.

The £360,000 is not a 'real' cost, just a number the Council and Fusion invented to make the running costs of Temple Cowley Pools seem higher than they actually are. It has been split from the single annual contract payment that the Council makes to Fusion to operate all the leisure centres.

The real cost should include the capital build costs as well as the revenue operating figures. Over £13m to build a new 25m pool the same size as Temple Cowley, plus the cost of building the brand new dance studio at Blackbird Leys which is now being trashed so that the new pool can join onto the leisure centre.

Compared to £3m to completely refurbish Temple Cowley Pools, although it could continue to operate with minimal maintenance costs of under £100,000 a year - with £65,000 to bring the only public diving pool in Oxfordshire back into use, £6,000 to fix the aircon in the gym, £200,000 to replace the air handling unit in the whole centre. Which is better value for money for Oxford?

We are facing a £6m cut in central government grant which is affecting front-line services - refurbishing Temple Cowley Pools would mean a huge cost saving compared to the new pool build, and all front-line services could be kept running.

The whole thing is profligate madness, wasting council taxpayers' money on a project for which there is simply no evidence of demand.
The truth is out there. But the Council never reveals or acknowledges the whole truth, which comes from their own figures and a discussion with their Finance team. The £360,000 is not a 'real' cost, just a number the Council and Fusion invented to make the running costs of Temple Cowley Pools seem higher than they actually are. It has been split from the single annual contract payment that the Council makes to Fusion to operate all the leisure centres. The real cost should include the capital build costs as well as the revenue operating figures. Over £13m to build a new 25m pool the same size as Temple Cowley, plus the cost of building the brand new dance studio at Blackbird Leys which is now being trashed so that the new pool can join onto the leisure centre. Compared to £3m to completely refurbish Temple Cowley Pools, although it could continue to operate with minimal maintenance costs of under £100,000 a year - with £65,000 to bring the only public diving pool in Oxfordshire back into use, £6,000 to fix the aircon in the gym, £200,000 to replace the air handling unit in the whole centre. Which is better value for money for Oxford? We are facing a £6m cut in central government grant which is affecting front-line services - refurbishing Temple Cowley Pools would mean a huge cost saving compared to the new pool build, and all front-line services could be kept running. The whole thing is profligate madness, wasting council taxpayers' money on a project for which there is simply no evidence of demand. SaveTCP

11:42am Sat 4 Jan 14

oafie says...

Should not have handed it over to Fusion should they!
Should not have handed it over to Fusion should they! oafie

10:01pm Sat 4 Jan 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Sarah Lasenby wrote:
Why does the Oxford Mail keep repeating the wrong price of £7.2m for the new pool when they have been told about their mistake before ?
Using Sport England 2012 prices all the facilities being built for the new pool would cost £7 - £7,5m But the contract signed for the present project is for £9.23m ! Rather a lot of difference. Was it signed in a rush?
Please print a correction about the price and stop making it seem more reasonable to build this new pool.
You'd better complain to the SaveTCP group too - they claim it's over £13M!
[quote][p][bold]Sarah Lasenby[/bold] wrote: Why does the Oxford Mail keep repeating the wrong price of £7.2m for the new pool when they have been told about their mistake before ? Using Sport England 2012 prices all the facilities being built for the new pool would cost £7 - £7,5m But the contract signed for the present project is for £9.23m ! Rather a lot of difference. Was it signed in a rush? Please print a correction about the price and stop making it seem more reasonable to build this new pool.[/p][/quote]You'd better complain to the SaveTCP group too - they claim it's over £13M! Andrew:Oxford

10:29pm Sat 4 Jan 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

SaveTCP wrote:
The truth is out there. But the Council never reveals or acknowledges the whole truth, which comes from their own figures and a discussion with their Finance team.

The £360,000 is not a 'real' cost, just a number the Council and Fusion invented to make the running costs of Temple Cowley Pools seem higher than they actually are. It has been split from the single annual contract payment that the Council makes to Fusion to operate all the leisure centres.

The real cost should include the capital build costs as well as the revenue operating figures. Over £13m to build a new 25m pool the same size as Temple Cowley, plus the cost of building the brand new dance studio at Blackbird Leys which is now being trashed so that the new pool can join onto the leisure centre.

Compared to £3m to completely refurbish Temple Cowley Pools, although it could continue to operate with minimal maintenance costs of under £100,000 a year - with £65,000 to bring the only public diving pool in Oxfordshire back into use, £6,000 to fix the aircon in the gym, £200,000 to replace the air handling unit in the whole centre. Which is better value for money for Oxford?

We are facing a £6m cut in central government grant which is affecting front-line services - refurbishing Temple Cowley Pools would mean a huge cost saving compared to the new pool build, and all front-line services could be kept running.

The whole thing is profligate madness, wasting council taxpayers' money on a project for which there is simply no evidence of demand.
What's happening with the SaveTCP contribution to the "Fusion Six"?

http://mycouncil.oxf
ord.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx
?ID=4970

Is the protester still protesting that Fusion acted on protests?
[quote][p][bold]SaveTCP[/bold] wrote: The truth is out there. But the Council never reveals or acknowledges the whole truth, which comes from their own figures and a discussion with their Finance team. The £360,000 is not a 'real' cost, just a number the Council and Fusion invented to make the running costs of Temple Cowley Pools seem higher than they actually are. It has been split from the single annual contract payment that the Council makes to Fusion to operate all the leisure centres. The real cost should include the capital build costs as well as the revenue operating figures. Over £13m to build a new 25m pool the same size as Temple Cowley, plus the cost of building the brand new dance studio at Blackbird Leys which is now being trashed so that the new pool can join onto the leisure centre. Compared to £3m to completely refurbish Temple Cowley Pools, although it could continue to operate with minimal maintenance costs of under £100,000 a year - with £65,000 to bring the only public diving pool in Oxfordshire back into use, £6,000 to fix the aircon in the gym, £200,000 to replace the air handling unit in the whole centre. Which is better value for money for Oxford? We are facing a £6m cut in central government grant which is affecting front-line services - refurbishing Temple Cowley Pools would mean a huge cost saving compared to the new pool build, and all front-line services could be kept running. The whole thing is profligate madness, wasting council taxpayers' money on a project for which there is simply no evidence of demand.[/p][/quote]What's happening with the SaveTCP contribution to the "Fusion Six"? http://mycouncil.oxf ord.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx ?ID=4970 Is the protester still protesting that Fusion acted on protests? Andrew:Oxford

11:48am Sun 5 Jan 14

SaveTCP says...

The total cost of this madcap venture is over £13m; the City Council also committed additional millions (of our money) to capital building in various leisure centres as part of the Fusion contract, completely negating any 'savings' they claimed for the business case and justification for outsourcing in the first place.
The £9.23m figure is the build cost for the new pool; specialist swimming pool contractors with good track records with other local authorities have quoted figures of £2.5m-5m for a 25m pool with various additional facilities.
There is then the £2.5m for 'remodelling' Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre (including the brand new dance studio that has just been trashed) so that the pool would fit onto it, and the £2m+ consultancy fees for the non-specialist MACE consultancy. Over £13m.
The total cost of this madcap venture is over £13m; the City Council also committed additional millions (of our money) to capital building in various leisure centres as part of the Fusion contract, completely negating any 'savings' they claimed for the business case and justification for outsourcing in the first place. The £9.23m figure is the build cost for the new pool; specialist swimming pool contractors with good track records with other local authorities have quoted figures of £2.5m-5m for a 25m pool with various additional facilities. There is then the £2.5m for 'remodelling' Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre (including the brand new dance studio that has just been trashed) so that the pool would fit onto it, and the £2m+ consultancy fees for the non-specialist MACE consultancy. Over £13m. SaveTCP

11:58am Sun 5 Jan 14

boagongrui says...

SaveTCP wrote:
The total cost of this madcap venture is over £13m; the City Council also committed additional millions (of our money) to capital building in various leisure centres as part of the Fusion contract, completely negating any 'savings' they claimed for the business case and justification for outsourcing in the first place.
The £9.23m figure is the build cost for the new pool; specialist swimming pool contractors with good track records with other local authorities have quoted figures of £2.5m-5m for a 25m pool with various additional facilities.
There is then the £2.5m for 'remodelling' Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre (including the brand new dance studio that has just been trashed) so that the pool would fit onto it, and the £2m+ consultancy fees for the non-specialist MACE consultancy. Over £13m.
Nit picking over the cost
Face the facts it is going ahead.
As the Yanks say Period.
[quote][p][bold]SaveTCP[/bold] wrote: The total cost of this madcap venture is over £13m; the City Council also committed additional millions (of our money) to capital building in various leisure centres as part of the Fusion contract, completely negating any 'savings' they claimed for the business case and justification for outsourcing in the first place. The £9.23m figure is the build cost for the new pool; specialist swimming pool contractors with good track records with other local authorities have quoted figures of £2.5m-5m for a 25m pool with various additional facilities. There is then the £2.5m for 'remodelling' Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre (including the brand new dance studio that has just been trashed) so that the pool would fit onto it, and the £2m+ consultancy fees for the non-specialist MACE consultancy. Over £13m.[/p][/quote]Nit picking over the cost Face the facts it is going ahead. As the Yanks say Period. boagongrui

12:14pm Sun 5 Jan 14

SaveTCP says...

The Campaign is to keep Temple Cowley Pools open. Closing Temple Cowley Pools to fund another pool the same size where there is no evidence of demand doesn't make sense or fit with any facts. The Council has not justified closure, let alone the new pool.

If people have so much money that they can consider wasting £13m of public money 'nit picking' then so be it. And everyone should be aware of what is happening, and how all city council services could be retained using different options.

The big problem is that people have not been given all the facts to face by the Council. Period. So people form their views without knowing the complete picture, or going into the detail on the Campaign website. Which is exactly what the council wants.
The Campaign is to keep Temple Cowley Pools open. Closing Temple Cowley Pools to fund another pool the same size where there is no evidence of demand doesn't make sense or fit with any facts. The Council has not justified closure, let alone the new pool. If people have so much money that they can consider wasting £13m of public money 'nit picking' then so be it. And everyone should be aware of what is happening, and how all city council services could be retained using different options. The big problem is that people have not been given all the facts to face by the Council. Period. So people form their views without knowing the complete picture, or going into the detail on the Campaign website. Which is exactly what the council wants. SaveTCP

2:04pm Sun 5 Jan 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

SaveTCP wrote:
The Campaign is to keep Temple Cowley Pools open. Closing Temple Cowley Pools to fund another pool the same size where there is no evidence of demand doesn't make sense or fit with any facts. The Council has not justified closure, let alone the new pool.

If people have so much money that they can consider wasting £13m of public money 'nit picking' then so be it. And everyone should be aware of what is happening, and how all city council services could be retained using different options.

The big problem is that people have not been given all the facts to face by the Council. Period. So people form their views without knowing the complete picture, or going into the detail on the Campaign website. Which is exactly what the council wants.
If you've got the evidence for the demand for the heritage pool following the opening of the gorgeous new pool at BBL - then SaveTCP should start preparing a business plan to present to your bank.

You've previously published a value of the current site at £4-6M. As you are so focussed on value for for money for the local authority - I'm sure you'll be prepared to pay the full £6M.

You've previously published a refurbishment value of £3M, then ongoing £100,000 operating per annum "minimum" operating costs.

So a £9M loan repaid over 25 years at 4% over base would currently cost £50,000 per month. Add on the £100,000 that comes to £700,000 per annum.

So all you really need is 1400 people to join at £40 per month to break even.

You may need to put your own homes up for security of course. Do think carefully before you do that. I always find repossessing family homes a bit awkward, the partners always get very angry and it almost always results in divorce.
[quote][p][bold]SaveTCP[/bold] wrote: The Campaign is to keep Temple Cowley Pools open. Closing Temple Cowley Pools to fund another pool the same size where there is no evidence of demand doesn't make sense or fit with any facts. The Council has not justified closure, let alone the new pool. If people have so much money that they can consider wasting £13m of public money 'nit picking' then so be it. And everyone should be aware of what is happening, and how all city council services could be retained using different options. The big problem is that people have not been given all the facts to face by the Council. Period. So people form their views without knowing the complete picture, or going into the detail on the Campaign website. Which is exactly what the council wants.[/p][/quote]If you've got the evidence for the demand for the heritage pool following the opening of the gorgeous new pool at BBL - then SaveTCP should start preparing a business plan to present to your bank. You've previously published a value of the current site at £4-6M. As you are so focussed on value for for money for the local authority - I'm sure you'll be prepared to pay the full £6M. You've previously published a refurbishment value of £3M, then ongoing £100,000 operating per annum "minimum" operating costs. So a £9M loan repaid over 25 years at 4% over base would currently cost £50,000 per month. Add on the £100,000 that comes to £700,000 per annum. So all you really need is 1400 people to join at £40 per month to break even. You may need to put your own homes up for security of course. Do think carefully before you do that. I always find repossessing family homes a bit awkward, the partners always get very angry and it almost always results in divorce. Andrew:Oxford

3:32pm Sun 5 Jan 14

SaveTCP says...

What great ideas Andrew has - a laser-like focus on issues that can be used to good effect in the Campaign to Save Temple Cowley Pools. He is hereby co-opted to the management committee (whatever that is).

An obvious flaw is that Temple Cowley Pools & Fitness Centre is a council-run facility, and should remain that way because there is simply no good reason to close it. So any user should also be able to use all the other facilities with their membership, just as anyone with a Slice card can use TCP at present.

And evidence? Surely Andrew hasn't forgotten the survey that we did, because the Council refused to. Over 95% said they wanted to keep Temple Cowley Pools open. Location, location, location. If people want to swim in the most expensive pool in the UK, queue in their cars to cross the ring road to get there rather than walk or cycle, and double the time they spend getting to/from their leisure centre, that is up to them.

The Campaign remains focused on keeping facilities open inside the ring road in East Oxford to maintain the health, well-being and quality of life of thousands of people who want and need to use Temple Cowley Pools - which is a complete leisure centre, not just a 25m swimming pool.

And Andrew would be very welcome at the Campaign weekly meetings, which remain open to all, especially as he has a business plan for us.
What great ideas Andrew has - a laser-like focus on issues that can be used to good effect in the Campaign to Save Temple Cowley Pools. He is hereby co-opted to the management committee (whatever that is). An obvious flaw is that Temple Cowley Pools & Fitness Centre is a council-run facility, and should remain that way because there is simply no good reason to close it. So any user should also be able to use all the other facilities with their membership, just as anyone with a Slice card can use TCP at present. And evidence? Surely Andrew hasn't forgotten the survey that we did, because the Council refused to. Over 95% said they wanted to keep Temple Cowley Pools open. Location, location, location. If people want to swim in the most expensive pool in the UK, queue in their cars to cross the ring road to get there rather than walk or cycle, and double the time they spend getting to/from their leisure centre, that is up to them. The Campaign remains focused on keeping facilities open inside the ring road in East Oxford to maintain the health, well-being and quality of life of thousands of people who want and need to use Temple Cowley Pools - which is a complete leisure centre, not just a 25m swimming pool. And Andrew would be very welcome at the Campaign weekly meetings, which remain open to all, especially as he has a business plan for us. SaveTCP

6:40pm Mon 6 Jan 14

colinharry says...

Oh God!!!! are those lazy bstrds still whining about having to get on a bus for a few minutes to visit the new pool???? youve wasted enough of the taxpayers £££££ jeeez
Oh God!!!! are those lazy bstrds still whining about having to get on a bus for a few minutes to visit the new pool???? youve wasted enough of the taxpayers £££££ jeeez colinharry

10:53pm Thu 9 Jan 14

SaveTCP says...

Well, colinharry, good to see you have a complete grip on the financial situation. It's the City Council that has wasted our council taxpayers cash attempting in vain to defend the indefensible, and then ignoring public opinion as well as the facts to push ahead and build the most expensive 25m non-Olympic swimming pool in the UK in a place where there's no evidence of demand.

Why should the thousands of people who want and need to use a swimming pool, diving pool and gym have to take any form of transport across the ring road when the can walk to where they want to go at the moment? City Council dogma is the answer, of course, plus the vested interests we explain clearly on the Campaign website http://tiny.cc/savet
cp
Well, colinharry, good to see you have a complete grip on the financial situation. It's the City Council that has wasted our council taxpayers cash attempting in vain to defend the indefensible, and then ignoring public opinion as well as the facts to push ahead and build the most expensive 25m non-Olympic swimming pool in the UK in a place where there's no evidence of demand. Why should the thousands of people who want and need to use a swimming pool, diving pool and gym have to take any form of transport across the ring road when the can walk to where they want to go at the moment? City Council dogma is the answer, of course, plus the vested interests we explain clearly on the Campaign website http://tiny.cc/savet cp SaveTCP

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