Falling out with the local Lambeth Labour party over leisure seems to be something of a recurring theme for prospective parliamentary candidates around my little patch of South London. You can’t really argue against the cause.
Fresh through the letterbox on Sunday lunchtime, and I read with interest:
Kate fights for local pool facility.
Kate has always championed sport and exercise for everyone, particularly children since long before she was an MP.
When she was Sports Minister, and now as the Mayor’ advisor on grassroots sport, she is committed to giving everyone access to decent sports facilities.
The community hub at the old Lilian Baylis School in Kennington is now being used for a wide range of sports and recreational activities, and Kate is supporting its becoming a Community Trust.
Well – who wouldn’t support such fine ideals?
To be fair, Kate Hoey did speak out about the demolishing of the pool at Stockwell Park High, after her local party on the ground ruled out the re-building of the pool as part of their prestigous new school build project.
Yet in my own area of London, Stockwell Park School, which already has a 25 metre swimming pool, is going to be totally rebuilt with money from the Building Schools for the Future fund – minus its pool. To the surprise of the community Lambeth Council says the government guidelines don’t specify a swimming pool as being necessary and there isn’t enough money. Schools Minister Jim Knight in a written answer to me said that it is up to the local authority to decide whether to replace the pool.
So here is a classic example of where all the fine words about tackling obesity fall down at the first hurdle. A school in one of the most deprived areas of inner city London with a swimming pool is losing it. The extra cost would be around £750,000 – a small amount when just a few miles away billions are being spent on the Olympics.
There’s no mention in the election literature of Kate’s fight for other local pool facilities at Streatham, Clapham and Brixton. One would presume that if a Lego pool is worth fighting over, then so are the three main closed pools in the Rotten Borough?
And as for “the Mayor’s advisor on grassroots sport” – I wonder what exactly Kate advises Boris about when it comes to closing three swimming pools in your home constituency? It all must get slightly embarrassing when talks turns to 2012, and all that.
Still, there’s always the 12m Lambeth Lego Pool at Lillian Baylis to boast about, which Kate so kindly poses in front of for the cameras. But only until April. @se11_lurker provides some background commentary on the botched attempt to open up Lillian Baylis as as a genuine cooperative (geddin there!) community hub (urgh.)
Streatham and Vauxhall *should* be safe Labour seats come polling day for the general election. The Chuka ‘n Kate roadshow will be hoping that the little spot of local bother over leisure doesn’t derail them.