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24 September 2007
Traffic came to a standstill in Camberwell on Saturday as more than 350 people staged a walk to save the local baths.
Actress Jenny Agutter provided a celebrity presence as users of the Camberwell Leisure Centre marched down Peckham Road to the Town Hall in protest at the council's reluctance to fund a revamp.
Goggles, snorkels, flippers and other swimming gear was worn as campaigners yelled 'Save our Pool' during the half-a-mile walk. A samba band from local charity Creative Routes gave the event a carnival atmosphere, but the message was overwhelmingly serious.
Campaigners, fuming that the council is refusing to provide the £6million needed to reinvigorate the downtrodden Artichoke Lane building, called on the authority to appoint an officer dedicated to accessing external funding.
Helen Owen said: "It is inevitable that there will be no more funding from the council other than the £1.5million they said they will provide, so we want Southwark to get an officer who can look for third party funding from places like the National Lottery and English Heritage. It's all about money and about having a firm political will to get it. It's very simple."
Cllr Lorraine Zuleta, executive member for culture, leisure and sport, said: “No one wants the Camberwell Leisure centre to close – including the council. That’s why we’re currently exploring options for a sustainable and viable future for the centre. There are a lot of people working very hard, both within the council and the community, to ensure the centre remains part of our community. Camberwell Leisure centre is being injected with £1.5 million worth of repairs and refurbishment. The working group, including Camberwell locals, is now looking at options for securing further sources of funding for the centre. We’ve also committed a further £200,000 for maintenance to guarantee the centre stays open while a longer term solution is developed and funding sourced.”
Camberwell councillor John Friary commented: “The council has made a decision, that we don’t agree with, not to fund it centrally, so they should appoint an officer or give an officer responsibility to come up with external funding.”
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