Barnet council's Policy & Resources committee (P&R) has agreed to look at retaining a diving facility at Copthall Leisure Centre after the #SaveBarnetDiving campaign presented their petition of 3,700+ signatures to last night's meeting (1 Sep).
In a member's item to the Committee Labour councillor and committee member, Alison Moore, called for a further options appraisal to be brought back to the committee that includes the diving boards alongside the proposed expanded swimming facilities.
The diving boards are currently used by the Tom Daley Diving Academy which coaches 28 local children aged 5-11, and three other diving clubs for beginners, intermediates and advanced divers, as well as a scuba diving club. #SaveBarnetDiving estimate around 100 children attend coached diving sessions every week at Copthall, and there is currently a waiting list for children who want to attend.
Conservative-run Barnet council is planning to scrap the diving boards whilst spending up to £30 million to redevelop the two council leisure centres in the borough. The cost of re-providing the diving boards is £676,000, but the council argues that the diving facility reduces income from swimming, which means the council has to subsidise the leisure centres.
Labour councillors highlighted at the meeting that the current proposals will bring in around £1.5m additional income per year, and that it is possible to integrate the diving boards in the proposed learner/training pool with a movable floor without reducing space for swimming. They have asked the Conservative administration to provide the financial projections which they say show the diving facility is not viable, but have not published.
Labour councillors also pointed out that the consultation results did not accurately reflect the level of interest in diving that had emerged as a result of the #SaveBarnetDiving campaign, and that the decision to withdraw the diving facility therefore needed to be reviewed.
Following last night's meeting, further options will now be brought back to the next Policy & Resources Committee on 5th October.
Cllr Moore said: “I welcome the decision to have another look at the options for diving. It is now quite clear that the consultation results that informed the decision to withdraw the facility in no way accurately reflect the level of interest in diving in the Borough.
"The #SaveBarnetDiving petitioners presented their case eloquently about just how important diving is to these children's lives.
"We need to be supporting the dreams of Barnet children who have set their hearts on competing in future Olympic games - not crushing them."
East Finchley Labour councillor, Arjun Mittra, also addressed the committee, saying: "I was lobbied at my surgery by a school aged constituent who attends the diving pool, who asked me to represent him at this meeting and give him a voice.
"He was enthused to diving by the London Olympics in 2012, took up the sport and hasn't looked back since. It has become a real joy and focus for his life, and who knows where his talents may take him, if only we can keep giving him the opportunities?
"I urge this committee to continue to provide the opportunities for our children and residents to excel. If we want to live up to our motto of "putting the community first" then we have to have some ambition, and take the plunge..."
1. A copy of Cllr Moore’s member’s item follows:
Member’s Item for 1 Sep P&R: Cllr Alison Moore
The current Rio Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics have shown what central and long-term planning and consistent investment can do for Team GB successes, and to encourage greater take-up of sport amongst both young and older people. The decision to scrap the diving facility at Copthall Leisure centre as part of plans to re-develop the centre is short sighted in comparison.
The diving boards are currently used by the Tom Daley Diving Academy which coaches 28 local children aged 5-11. The closure of the facility would force these children to travel at least two hours, three times a week, to get to the Olympic Park Aquatics Centre. This is likely to result in fewer children continuing with their diving classes and would inevitably deter more young people from getting involved in the future.
The Council is intending to spend £23m on refurbishing Copthall Leisure Centre and replacing the Church Farm swimming pool at a new facility in New Barnet, but argues that the cost of re-providing the diving facility at £676k is too much, and that it will reduce income by reducing the available space for swimming.
I ask the committee to re-consider, and to agree that a further options appraisal is brought back to the committee to include an option to retain the diving facility alongside expanded swimming facilities.
The options appraisal should also look at possible alternative funding streams including Sport England and the National Lottery to help retain a diving facility in Barnet.
2.To sign the #SaveBarnetDiving petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-diving-at-barnet-coptall
3. A link to the Policy & Resources committee agenda and papers including the members items and petition:
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568