Rebuild don’t replace Seven Islands Leisure Centre, urge residents

News Desk (27 August, 2015) Regeneration

More Rotherhithe residents have spoken up against the proposed site for the new Canada Water leisure centre.

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More Rotherhithe residents have spoken up against the proposed site for the new Canada Water leisure centre – with council leader Peter John also coming under fire for “trying to shut down discussion” on the matter.

Last week, the News spoke to Surrey Quays residents who were furiously opposing plans to possibly build on a “green haven” to the west of the shopping centre car park.

This week, more residents joined the furore – this time those living by the current Seven Islands Leisure Centre in Lower Road who say that the current site should instead be refurbished.

Tom Holder, who lives by the centre, told the News: “The current centre is well-used and well-liked. It’s located on the corner of two rows of old, three-storey houses – there are obvious fears of what might replace the centre and how it will affect the area.

“The current site, which is in a sort of U-shape, also has a lot of empty, unused space in the middle which could be developed. Why don’t the council seem to be properly considering refurbishing Seven Islands instead of moving it?”

Southwark Lib Dems have also waded into the row, with councillor Anood Al-Samerai claiming that council leader Peter John has been “trying to shut down discussion” – citing his online response to the News article last week.

After reading the article outlining the concerns of worried residents, councillor John commented on Twitter: “So let’s cancel the leisure centre?”

She said that it was “absolutely disgusting” how he had responded to genuine concerns of residents with a flippant remark. “Obviously we know that there is a need for a new leisure centre or a refurbished centre in the area, but residents must be listened to and cannot be dismissed. It seems like he is trying to shut down discussion,” said Cllr Al-Samerai.

Council Leader Peter John outright rejected these allegations. He said: “A new leisure centre at Canada Water is at the heart of the exciting plans for the area, which will also deliver new homes and a new town centre for residents in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.

“Of course we will engage and consult with local residents to ensure we get the plans right, but ultimately our commitment is to provide a new leisure centre with top quality facilities for local people.”

The Lib Dems have also submitted a Freedom of Information request to the council after asking “for months” without reply whether it was safe to build a centre over the East London Line tunnel.

David Foot says:

To all SWIMMERS:

Please REJECT the new site:

The Southwark Master Plan proposed new Leisure Centre is to be built on an area for wildlife preservation to be killed off and downgrades the Seven Island Swimming pool to one for school children’s swimming lessons for which there will be two pools, one for children who can’t swim and one for school lessons, they only need a 25 metre pool with very little depth. LBS will then SELL the Seven Islands site, do away with the 33m long 4 m deep pool used at present at the Leisure Centre replacing it with a noticeably inferior one and crucially MAKE A LOT OF MONEY short changing sportspeople in the Borough!

LBS is downgrading sport facilities instead of providing a better pool with a deep end for real adult swimming and under water activities such as scuba, it will do away with most adult swimming facilities.

Downgrading of sports for adults is against the London commitment to Sports made to the Olympic Committee at the time of placing the London bid.

David Foot says:

To all Swimmers and Nature Lovers, there is going to be a chance to question Southwark Council: On March 16 5:30 pm to 8 pm

Do you have a burning question to ask of the politicians responsible for
many local services in Southwark? Now’s your chance to ask them directly.

On the evening of 16 March at City Hall the council will be hosting its first ever
cabinet member public question time. Starting at 6.30pm (doors open at 5.30pm)
and concluding at 8pm, the event is a great opportunity for members of the
public to put questions directly to cabinet members on the local issues of the
day.

I have proposed these questions:

Undermining Sports in the Borough:

Here are my questions in more detail:

1. Why are you moving the Leisure Centre “Seven Islands” when it has a
rare Imperial Pool of 33 meters and 3.8 meters deep which allows,
swimming in deep water, scuba, it could even allow diving boards if this
were desired.. You are proposing to replace such a Centre with another
one with children’s 25 meter pools far inferior and so much less useful
for all kinds of sports.

Is this what the Council Leader describes as “top quality facilities for
local people” that statement is not consistent with what the Council is
doing. Reality shows you are short-changing the public of Southwark
giving a vastly inferior facility crucially in the swimming department.

When London proposed itself as an Olympic venue it said it would promote
sports not undermine them. Swimming and diving are sports where the UK
has done well and need to be promoted, they are also the healthiest sports.

2. Seven Islands has plenty of space to put in other sports and
facilities and to expand further and so has the Water Sports Centre so
near to the proposed inferior new site.

There is no site related reason why Seven Islands can’t be refurbished
and expanded in coordination with the Water Sports Centre. Including
treadmills and other exercise machines, areas dedicated to other types
of sports, boxing, judo etc. Both sites already can be developed further.

4. Crucially Seven Islands has better transport links than the proposed
site.

5. In this process you are mashing up precious area dedicated to wild
life, so it has not gone down well with the neighbours nor with nature
lovers either. For no real reason as you could happily refurbish and
please everybody.

David Foot says:

If you fill in the consultation you must do so before April 29th https://consultations.southwark.gov.uk/planning-and-regeneration/new-leisure-centre-site-at-canada-water
and if you wish to keep the present site at Seven Islands which
has plenty of free space for expansion and development, a fantastic swimming
pool, you must bear in mind that Southwark tries to make you say yes to the new
center on the wildlife reserved site, so you need to say yes that you are aware of the 3 to 4
years without a leisure center.

The alternative is to be 50 years or for ever with a much smaller leisure
center built on the site at present reserved for wildlife and cutting down all the
trees.

It should be possible to refurbish the site and keep it going if Southwark
wishes to do this but they are after the land of Seven Islands which they want
badly so they try to force us to accept the inferior new site.

Tonight I went to the Public Question Time held at County Hall and I wasn’t
allowed to put any questions and the chairman of the meeting “held”
my question and phrased it for the convenience of the councilors latter. They
don’t want to hear or accept any arguments.

The pool used to have diving boards but they took them out, and they mentioned
things like that fact of the diving boards which were so good and they are no
longer available, but this is only because they took them out.

In St. Georges’ pool on the other side of the river similar to ours, Tom Daily
goes and teaches them how to dive and use the boards, and they have installed
new boards, unlike Southwark who took the boards out. The new pool will not
have the depth and will be a much smaller childrens’ pool.

The next meeting we can voice our opinions about the Leisure Center will be on
Monday 21st Alfred Salter Primary School, 7 pm in Rotherhithe SE16 7LP.

David Foot says:

Comments on
Meeting of March 21st:
Some things were debated regarding the bringing in of thousands of new residents in to this development
* Need for more surgeries as we already don’t have enough (several weeks to get an appointment even for a vaccination).
* Need to expand and increase the number of schools (already a lot have to leave the area to find a place)
*
Need for Transport for London to contribute much more transport as
already Jubilee line is running every two minutes and is full and can’t
possibly take more passengers for instance.
* The area will be
considered for to be a no emission zone to improve air quality in the
future and how to shield Sothwark Park from emissions of standing
traffic
* Regarding the Leisure Centre we managed to get some debate
about the damage to the environment of the proyect preferred by the
Council which would destroy the parked area at the end of Hothfield
Place and a valuable cycle lane coming from the main road and also from
Southwark Park, this carried some weight.
* Regarding the sports
aspect of the Leisure Centre Southwark seems to be working on the
demolition of Seven Islands and its replacement by their preferred site
and the reduced band of services they propose, and they don’t seem to
think this is a consultation, there were two of us who were defending
our 33m pool and some residents defending the park area to be affected.
However for the debate proper it was all referred to the meeting at the
library on the 30th of March at 19 hours… I hope you and everybody who
wants to keep the leisure services we have will be able to take part..
This may be our last chance to try and get Southwark to rethink the
rubbish they propose and to try and keep Seven Islands.. The pool had
and can have diving boards because of its depth, useful for scuba
training, 33 m much better than 25 meters, and if they “must” smash up
Seven Islands, there is room on the site for a 50 meter pool. The point
to bear in mind is if we allow Southwark to flog us their rubbish now we
and the new thousands of families will be stuck with that piece of
excrement for the forseeable future and that means not less than fifty
years.
To conclude on the 30th of March 19 hours meeting at the
library and we debate a Leisure Centre not only for us but for the new
thousands of residents who are coming in, some developments are alredy
well under way! We all MUST make a big effort to be present.

David Foot says:

I have now started a petition for Boris Johnson to intervene and ask for a proper consultation. Councillor Mark Williams refuses to consult over the pool point blank and the “preferred site” remains the nature reserve and cycle lane. I have included a link to Southwark News article with one of its photos of the park area.

David Foot says:

There is a petition doing its rounds against over population with poor services of Canada Water / Rotherhithe doing its rounds
Please sign
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/128693/sponsors/KXRsYFNfOL4YGlQlEBl

David Foot says:

I understand from Labour Councillor Williams that there is going to be a date for feedback about the Leisure Centre after the closing date for consultantion 29-4-16, the date will be after the May 5th elections and a PDF document was brought to my attention which spoke of the location of the Leisure Centre
http://moderngov.southwark.gov.uk/documents/s56019/Report%20Site%20for%20location%20of%20new%20Canada%20Water%20Leisure%20Centre.pdf
I have replied specially to point 37 because Southwark have been running Seven Islands in to the ground and charging £5 to go for a swim and opening doors and windows in winter and they complain that not enough people use the facility!

Here are my additional comments:

Cc Email and Councillor Williams

Point 37: User numbers
attending Seven Islands Leisure Centre says it is under used, my comments to be
considered are as follows:

For the pool to be more used you must not reduce the size of the pool,
specially its length, you must also make sure that there is a stable timetable
all the year round inside and outside school terms, you must stop forcing people to become part of your
membership scheme and make it optional in cash terms and of course you can
favour regular users if you wish but without excluding the rest by charging
prohibitive costs, you must make sure that the pool is a healthy environment
and that you don’t make users sick by
opening doors and windows when it is cold, specially in winter!

1.
Pool use: SIMILAR LEISURE CENTRE: As explained in my earlier communication, I
would expect numbers attending to be similar to the demand put on St. Georges
Pool – The Highway – Tower hamlets if
the Council supplies the needs for the facilities to exercise as is done in
that pool, which means opening hours to allow exercise before going to
work, attending workers and residents needs during the lunch break and also in
the evenings.

2.
SWIMMING IS IT FOR SCHOOL CHILDREN OR FOR ALL THE POPULATION?: It is important to note at this stage
that swimming is a very special sport in the sense that it allows the
exercising of muscles but without wearing the joints nor imposing on the spine
for support, it also evens out the temperature of the body and the head
allowing more intense exercises which without the cooling effect would be hard to
maintain, so it is very unique and brings huge health benefits for the body and
for the mind.

If the Council considers that
the swimming pool is not only the preserve of school children but as St.
George’s Pool it is also for the health and wellbeing of all the population: children and adults too, then timetables should be firmly upheld
throughout the year regardless of school terms or holidays as Southwark doesn’t do at present.

The space allocated to schools
such as the cordoned off shallow end could be dedicated to fun and whatever..
and the rest of the pool dedicated to the general public even during holidays keeping
the timetables constant and reliably for everybody to have their exercise
timetables unaffected. A longer pool would make this even more possible.

Also if the pool is to be not
only for school children learning to swim but also for the good of all the
population then it must have an adequate
size in width and in length to allow this.

At present we have a 33 meter Imperial Pool which was very well
designed for adults and children and many different sports, some of these
sports the Council has abandoned (board diving) but this has not happened in
St. Georges where Tom Daley helps teach board diving, regrettably Southwark
took out our diving boards, but this doesn’t take away the fact that any
replacement should be designed at least as well as the present Imperial pool
which Europeans would want it replaced by the 25 meters or 50 meters versions,
being the 25 meters a huge step backwards for swimming.

Point
38: Maximizing participation in physical activity
: would not be served by a 25 meter pool.

The only improvement to our
present facilities would have to be a 50 meter pool with sufficient depth to
allow board diving, and with the requested 8 lanes to allow the pool to be
split in different sessions, while the 50 meters would really come in to its
own when schools cordon off the shallow end and would leave the other swimmers
a reasonable length to swim in during most of the days during school term. A 25
meter pool would be unacceptable for this reason as in a mayor leisure centre
serving such an increased population and many schools it would leave during
most of the day a space of only 18 meters length for the public to swim in!
Totally unacceptable and frustrating in such an over developed and populated town
centre area for mixed use.

The advantage of a proper 50
meter pool would be as a venue for dedicated swimmers and divers who would be
able to use such a facility to give us future champions, and so while we would
be serving the lowest common denominator most of the time, we would keep the
flexibility to be offering a simultaneous venue for excellence, making it
possible for the most talented residents to prosper for the credit of our
population and the Council. At present Southwark can’t supply anything like
this anywhere so this is the opportunity to put things right.

3. HEALTH REASONS FOR UNDERUSE OF THE PRESENT POOL: Opening of windows and
doors in winter making people sick.

It goes without saying that
users should be able to expect a safe environment at any Leisure Centre
administered by any Council!

In the process of talking to
users about this change when I found out about it, some told me that they no longer went to Seven Islands because it
made them sick.

For
the past three years I have been fighting a vigorous campaign against the
opening of doors and windows in midwinter putting users at risk
of catching serious illnesses as I myself think I have caught because of this
mentally inexplicable behaviour by managers at Seven Islands.

Even yesterday regardless of
the cold temperatures and that the ventilation is supposed to be fixed there
was a large window open and the air in the pool hall and changing rooms was
freezing. I will say no more about this except that some unqualified person has
been going around with a hygrometer saying that all that matters is the
dampness levels.. how the Council can pay somebody with this “type of
knowledge” is hard to explain or understand!

4. Finally the Cost:

Southwark
many years ago imposed an out of proportion price increase for the use the
Leisure Centre and swimming pool. The fact that now it talks about free swimming sessions for
the sake of the health of the population is an indictment on its own former
policy of excluding people from using its facilities on the basis of cost.

Southwark
introduced a membership scheme against our opposition. It was impossible
for an average working resident to come in from the street when they had the
time and simply go for a swim. Southwark
increased the cost for that which went from £1.20 to £5 and this was too
much. In my case I started to swim in St. Georges’ Pool which eventually
introduced a membership scheme but was cheaper than Southwark, so even then I
continued swimming at St. George’s until my retirement. I like St. Georges now
too, but I must look after the money, and it is now cheaper for me to swim at
Seven Islands.

David Foot says:

Here is my complaint about the consultation process.
It is clear to me that in addition to what I said before, after reading point 37 of their document and having recorded so many problems on this site, I have to request Southwark to modify point 37 of their document.
Also there is a trend to want to give the work to the architects of British Land without a competition which is unusual if now Southwark wish to own the freehold of the site, then in a case like this there should be no excuse
not to have a proper competition where British Land’s poor quality proposal can
be included.
This is specially noticeable because the British Land Architects put a 25 meter pool on the proposed redevelopment of the Seven Islands site when it is taking TODAY at present to thirds of a 50 meter pool sideways!.. On the ground floor of Seven Islands there is space for two 50 meter pools or even a 50 meter pool 25 meter wide! There should be a proper competition for this work and not give it to the first company at hand nor to the first trainee who turns up, so that price, design and quality can be compared.
This is my complaint to the Southwark team:

COMPLAINT –
Team at Canada Water Master Plan

Dear Sirs:

Your reference is 571469 from the Internet, regarding complaint against arbitrary process of consultation for a replacement Leisure Centre for Seven Islands Leisure Centre. My complaint against the process of consultation which I started by letter and on line in February 2016 as soon as I got your letter informing me of a consultation.

I expect a reply to this complaint after the consultation process has run its course.

As this terrible
process evolves, I wish to add issues to and summarise the issues already
raised in my complaint about your process of consultation for the selection of
a Leisure Centre Site, specifically your public document “Site
for location of new Canada Water Leisure Centre.PDF” point 37 which in my
view you mislead the public by saying in your point 37 that Seven Islands
Leisure Centre is underused.

It is very modest of Southwark Council /
Labour Councillor Williams to present point 37 to the general public as saying
that the Leisure Centre is not used as much as it should be as if giving credit
to the users for not turning up when it has been really totally to the credit
of Southwark Council / Labour Councillor Williams who have been working to make
Seven Islands Leisure Centre as impenetrable to the users as is possible
without going as far as using force against the people wanting to stay fit.

Point 37 should read: Acknowledgement of the
success by Southwark Council’s policies towards achieving the impenetrability
of Seven Islands Leisure Centre and of course quoting their figures which
ratify this statement.

Southwark Council has:

* Opened
doors and windows in winter making users sick (well documented by myself
and believe I went down with flu twice because of this)

* Overcharging
access and making access financially prohibitive so that some of us would
even go to other Boroughs for Leisure Services! (Before 1998 you introduced a
“membership scheme” increasing entrance fees from £1.20 to close to £5.00). You
were so effective pricing everybody out, that you have had no need to increase
your exclusion or “membership” fees in nearly 20 years! I myself used to swim
mostly at St. George’s in Tower Hamlets until I retired and now I must look
after all my expenses as it would be difficult to find additional income
streams.

* Simply
not allowing access to the public if all else fails, they have membership,
they passed all the hurdles.. tell them to go away! This is the most effective
one, if all else fails simply don’t let them in!.. Job done!. Please see
reference (1) for documentation of how Southwark has succeeded in this field. I
have also experienced this policy as the others mentioned here.

So if the same people and policies are used
to manage your new Leisure Centre in this way you will still have low
attendance as explained above but the advantage is that you will also have:

. A load of chopped down trees and a dead
nature reserve and too few customers.

. A blocked cycle lane, blocked pedestrian
access and too few customers.

. Loads of neighbours lives and quiet cull de
sac wrecked and too few customers.

. Only a children’s swimming lessons swimming
pool and too few customers.

All in all .. You are leaving nothing to
chance, Southwark is well on its way to achieve the perfect impenetrable Seven Islands
Leisure Centre! And thanks to this and other things you will be replacing it
with a second rate leisure centre in the wrong place with inferior facilities
for an even greater catchment area and with the same administration the
relative usage will be even worse.

The
core of what I wish to add to my complaint about the arbitrary process of
consultation is that in order not to mislead the public you should put in point
37:Successful policy blocking the use of the Leisure Centre..

The only thing you don’t block are the profitable swimming lessons which will be
institutionalised in the new Centre with the help of the trainee architects
from British Land who can build little swimming pools you will give the Borough
a pool for swimming lessons and unfit for hardly anything else.. 25 meters of
European rubbish to replace one of the two good things Seven Island has its
Imperial swimming pool and its land.

Reference (1) Documentation of this point –
Copy of my letter to Southwark Leisure services is attached.

I have documented my complaint today at the
Leisure Centre by leaving a complaint form at Reception of Seven Islands and by
sending a letter to Leisure Services, and I will try to put the complaint on
the Internet and also post everything during the long weekend.

Please add this issue to the points which I
have made already in my original complaint against your arbitrary process of
consultation namely (letter Feb 8th 2016 and Internet)

Summary of points raised so far:

1. In your first and only letter to the
public informing them of the consultation you
failed to give the fact that Southwark specified to British Land (or British
Land specified to Southwark) a 25 meter European pool for children who can’t
swim swimming lessons and useful for very little else to replace the 33 meter
Imperial pool so well designed for adults and children and a wide range of
sports.

2. In
your letter you were simply saying 8 lane swimming pool and you didn’t clarify
that you weren’t talking about the originally
specified new swimming pool for the Master Plan specified as 50 meter pool. Nor
were you referring to the present day Imperial pool, you were talking about
something totally inferior and different and unmentioned. You failed tell the
public that Southwark or British Land were changing the original specification
and were now specifying 25 meters of European rubbish, a swimming pool for
children’s swimming lessons, about all what it is good for.- Very misleading!
Very inadequate for a massive development.

3. You
were aware that you were going to block a cycle lane and smash up a nature
reserve, and that there were complaints already about this but you failed to
inform the public about this in your letter calling for consultation.

4. You
were aware that behind Hothfield Place the area would be totally transformed by
dense building wall to wall changing the character of this pleasant quiet area which
we enjoy when we walk and cycle through. And neighbours who were aware of
all this for some reason before the rest of us had already complained about
this and it was well documented but you didn’t put this in your letter calling
for consultation.

5. You
were aware that there were complaints about the very tall buildings British
Land wanted to introduce but you failed to tell the public about this in your
invitation to consultation letter, which didn’t cover all the problems raised
such as inadequate services of all types, already deficient for residents and
business as things are now without the Master Plan.

6. Your
employees during the consultation actively supported the bogus project of
consultation using public money to mislead and to satisfy your / British Land’s
politically / individually / commercially desired ends.

7. You
put leading questions in the consultation pressuring the public not to ask for
to keep the Seven Islands site threatening them with three years without a
Leisure Centre but not warning them that if they did vote for the new site they
will be accepting for more than fifty years an inferior / inadequate 25 meter
European pool for children’s swimming lessons replacing the much better
designed Imperial Pool and the originally specified 50 meter pool for the
Master Plan. This you did not tell the public in your letter calling for
consultation and it is not clear how or why the 50 meter pool vanished. You
seem to want to give the project to British Land who may not be able to
construct anything but small pools, actually they may have a history of dishing
out only small pools.

8. The
fact that you now specify that the Leisure Centre can’t be in a mixed use
building as originally specified is totally arbitrary as a building can
have some floors gutted out entirely and refurbished to new without major
problems for the other floors if it has been professionally designed (not by
trainee architects of course you need building experience). Any way Leisure
Centres can last half a century or more as Seven Islands and St. George’s
clearly demonstrate. And what is more St. George’s has a 33 meter pool on a first floor and was built half a century ago! That is why I insist on getting
proper architects and not cowboys.

9. Added today to my complaint: The successful policy of Southwark Council
stopping users from getting in to the Leisure Centre .. amending point 37
of your document for choosing the location of the Leisure Centre which as
proved by my complaint of April 30th 2016 this policy of Southwark
should be reflected in point 37 expressing the success of Southwark policy
which at peak times can achieve the perfect impenetrability of the Leisure
Centre.

Yours truly

David Foot

David Foot says:

There is a new petition approved before Southwark Council. Please help us by signing it:

Petition Address:

http://moderngov.southwark.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?ID=500000028&RPID=599226752&HPID=599226752

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