Back to the Future Clap’ham

And so how very amusing – the Clap’ham Leisure Centre quarterly users forum drew in a crowd consisting of six blokes from Greenwich Leisure Limited / @lambeth_council, and um, one lone user / local nutter.


Yep, I felt an a*** as I walked into the empty surrounds of the upstairs room at Clap’ham Manor, and yes, I swear the look I received from the nice man from the Rotten Borough was one of ‘oh no, not him again.’

But if public service providers are going to put themselves up as being accountable, then you need to take the opportunity to hold them to account. Failing that then there’s always the opportunity for some free afternoon tea and biscuits, served up at SW4.

And so how to solve the problem of Clap’ham Leisure Centre? I feel another long *sighhhh* coming up…

The problem per se isn’t the structural building. It just needs some tender loving care. The Brockwell experience down at SE24 proves precisely what can be achieved within an old building, if the heritage is respected and looked after.

The problem isn’t really GLL either. Having taken up the lure of being pimped out by @lambeth_council, GLL is making the best of a one way situation. @lambeth_council gets to lose leisure from its management portfolio, and GLL take a slice of the profit. Eveyone’s happy, apart from the users.

Nope, the problem is with the continued delay of the building of a new leisure centre. As ever, it is the users who are left unsure about the future of swimming in South London.

Having asked for a progress report on the delay of Future Clap’ham (the past always catches up with you…) I’m still none the clearer as to why Clap’ham hasn’t got a shiny new facility, as promised by Labour led Lambeth Council as an election pledge. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention. It was rather awkward trying to covertly podcast on the fly, with six blokes eyeballing me as I fiddled around with the iPhone.


I was told however that Clap’ham would close “early in the new year.” I was told the same timescale twelve months ago, and so I wouldn’t pack away those Speedos just yet.

But if this is to be the new timetable for closure, then swimmers in Clap’ham are stuffed. I asked about alternative arrangements. Brixton was rolled out as the answer. The only problem here being that the Rec is also closing throughout January and February, to carry out improvements to the multi-million pound new changing rooms that were put in place less than three years ago.

Ah, how about St Reatham? Yer man from GLL chipped with the news that part of the St Reatham pool is also closed for repair.


There’s always the lovely lido of course, although not during the winter months (and also not on my GLL Swim London membership; I fear I gave the man from @lambeth_council an easy ride this time, breaking in tradition by not asking the question as to why two separate swimming membership schemes are in place in the Rotten Borough. The answer of course lies with politicians and money.)

The rest of the meeting was open, if not a little awkward. I found it rather tricky trying to pace my questions, waiting for @audioboo to upload a piece, keeping on hold my next question before I could start recording once again.

And so from Future Clap’ham, to scuba divers. Blimey. Blink and you’ll miss the answer.


Cleanliness was mentioned, but to be fair, I have found GLL to be rather good at keeping Clap’ham clean. Updates from the previous forum were read out, confirming that points made by other users (there are others?) had indeed been acted upon.

Which is all praise to GLL. It is great that GLL is held to account, and offers up representatives each quarter to more or less get a kicking. Leisure users are a passionate and vocal constituent. Well, apart from Thursday afternoon in Clap’ham. I can’t help thinking that the panel of six was safety in numbers. What were they really expecting from one lone bloke and his bloody @audioboo app?

So yeah, the comedy value of being the Spokesperson for his Swimming Generation is rather amusing. Future Clap’ham and the continual failure of @lambeth_council to implement an election pledge is not so comical.

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