South London Swimming Schmozzle

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, another day, another blog post all about the complete failure of @lambeth_council to provide leisure facilities in the Rotten Borough.

If you’re (i) not from my little patch of South London, and / or (ii) not interested in swimming – apologies. It’s not everyday that your poxy excuse for a local council manages to close all three pools in the area, is it?

Is it?


The headline news, straight outta the mean streets of Lambeth today is:

Clap’ham Pool is closing on 15th January.

It’s nothing that we didn’t already know. The harsh reality of the confirmation date brings it closer to home how Labour run Lambeth Council has completely failed the electorate when it comes to leisure provision.

What hurts harder is that the South London swimming schmozzle is of a direct result of a Labour administration getting into bed with big business, and ending up being right, royally shagged up the a***.

As a painful re-cap:

St Reatham is closed because the building is falling down. Lambeth Council won’t pump any money into the pool because of the grand plans for the failed St Reatham hub. After pimping out the project to Tesco, the supermarket is now stalling

Four years behind schedule, and the poor people of SW16 are left not only without anywhere to swim, but also an ice rink that is officially held together by masking tape and no sign of a fancy new supermarket. Which is perhaps some reason to cheer.

Brixton is closing next month, despite the candyfloss claims that Lambeth Labour pin up boy @cllrstevereed (seriously) has been trying to spin out of the sorry situation. The £2m refurbishment of two years ago is money spunked up against the changing room walls. The builders are moving in and the swimmers are moving out.

There is the outside chance of a swim in SW9, but only between the hours of 7am – 9am, and then you have to suffer the indignity of putting on your Speedos upstairs in the gym, being frog marched down two flights of stairs in full public view, before you even reach the pool. The drip drop of the return journey doesn’t even bare thinking about.

And then we come to Clap’ham.

Cripes, Clap’ham.

Clap’ham isn’t falling down, but it is being bulldozed down. The beautiful 33m pool is being replaced by some hideous glass fronted 25m pool. November 2011 is the expected completion date for Future Clap’ham, a projec that has a shifting timeline that would confuse even space / time continuum Star Trek fans.

Keep Clap’ham Swimming was the election manifesto that won Labour the Clap’ham Town ward four years ago. The fear now is that the total incompetence and lack of accountability of Lambeth Labour will lead to Clap’ham not re-opening at all.

In fairness, Greenwich Leisure Limited, the pimped out leisure partner for the Rotten Borough, is attempting to soften the blow. The sweetener of a free month of membership in January has been offered to Swim London cardholders. The only problem here of course is that you need to find a pool that is actually open to swim in.

Didn’t quite think that one through eh fellas?

And what of the poor GLL shop floor staff? The receptionists at Clap’ham are patient (often a little too patient) and genuinely nice people. Much like the above chicken and egg free swimming situation, where exactly are they going to work, now all three pools are shut?

I did feel sorry for the rather nice GLL manager at Clap’ham as he made the effort to track me down after my swim on Tuesday afternoon.

Are you OK with the new arrangements?” he asked.

Not really,” I offered, aware that he is probably as p***ed off as I am in the way that Lambeth Council has washed it’s hands over the pimping out of leisure in the Rotten Borough.

The Clap’ham Customer Forum on 11th January should be a lively affair.

I walked past the GLL advertising board, boasting of free swimming for the under 16’s and over 65’s in the Rotten Borough. Even this irresistible advertising claim is now open to question. There’s no such thing as a free swim – not if you can’t find a pool to actually swim in.

And so that’s the state of Sport For All in the Rotten Borough of Lambeth. It’s all a load of bollocks, and bollocks to them all.

The failure of Councillor Lib Peck in her previous cabinet role of Member for Culture and Communities led to her landing the plum portfolio of Housing and Regeneration. The good councillor told Brixton Rec users in March 2007 that:

Brixton WILL re-open in three months.”

Three months later and The Rec remained closed. A complete lack of user consultation led to a refurbishment that is so shoddy, the Rec is closing after less than three years and a £2m investment.

Fast forward to 2010, and in three months time, the Lambeth electorate will once again be deciding which politicians can be trusted to re-open the Rec. And Keep Clap’ham Swimming. Oh, and how about the Streatham Hub situation?

My leisure, other people’s pleasure…

Ha, ha, ha.

2 thoughts on “South London Swimming Schmozzle

  1. Hi,

    I represent the Lord Mayor of London’s office (not Boris!). We are trying to get as many people in London involved in a charity swimming event that we are holding in February.

    The event is taking place at the Goldren Lane Leisure Centre near the Barbican, on the 26th and 17th of Feb. Have a look at our site ( or just Google ‘City Dip’ if you want any further info and how to get involved.

    Hope this goes some way to give you some swimming option in London!

    The Lord Mayors Office

  2. I really really really miss our beautiful pool in Streatham. With art deco stained glass dolphins on the vaulted ceiling. The nicest place to swim indoors in the whole of London. Until it was closed by Lambeth Council.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *