CAMPAIGNERS are hoping the power of prayer will help them to save Temple Cowley Pools.

In its latest move, the Save Temple Cowley Pools campaign has been seeking support from church congregations.

The Temple Road complex is to close because Oxford City Council says it is no longer fit for purpose and has decided to replace it with a new multi-million pound pool in Blackbird Leys.

According to campaigners, the Rev Tim Stead, of Headington Quarry Church, has agreed to lead the Cowley Deanery team with prayers during the morning service, at 17 churches in the deanery on Sunday, and mosques have been invited to join in.

The group is also hosting the Big Splash, a fundraising swim at the pool on the same day, from 3pm-5pm. Adults are invited to swim the length of the pool and make a donation to the campaign.

Campaigners have invited city council leader Bob Price, councillors and officers including chief executive Peter Sloman to join them.

Chaka Artwell, who lives in Barton, was among a group of campaigners who turned up at the town hall in St Aldate’s yesterday to invite councillors and staff to join the swim.

He said: “We have tried petition and protest so we thought we would try prayer as well.

“The Bishop of Oxford, along with the lively congregation of Pastor Derek Walker’s Oxford Bible Church, and the large congregation of the Christian Life Centre in Cowley Road, have also been invited to say prayers for the pool campaign.”

The Oxford Times:

The Rev Howard Thornton, rector of the parish of Cowley, above, who is based at St James’ Church in Beauchamp Lane, said: “We will definitely be mentioning the pool in our prayers. There are many people in our congregation who are very concerned about the future of the pool.

“Prayer always works – just not always the way you would like it to.”

Campaign spokesman Jane Alexander said: “We welcome the huge interest being shown by our religious leaders.”

The city council has been prevented from selling the site for six months after residents registered it as an Asset of Community Value.

The group has until October 7 to make a bid before that period expires and the council can put it on the market.

Mr Price was unavailable for comment on the issue last night.

LOOKING BACK ON THEIR BATTLE

The Oxford Times:

IN June, the fight to save Temple Cowley Pools gained heavyweight support when boxing champion David Haye gave his backing to the campaign group.
The 33-year-old former WBA heavyweight champion was told about the campaign by Cowley resident Salman Naqvi, a family friend.
Judicial review challenges were launched by both pool campaigners and residents in Blackbird Leys but both were unsuccessful.
In 2010, campaigners submitted a 12,000-name petition to the city council.
In March this year the campaign group nominated the site to be designated as an asset of community value.

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