Activists wearing life jackets and rubber bands protest the closure of Bucksburn Swimming Pool
Activists, young and old, braved the elements and donned life jackets and rubber bands to fight the closure of a swimming pool in Aberdeen.
The sound of drums and cheers filled the air as over 100 protesters lined up outside the Bucksburn Swimming Pool to protest its closure next month.
Even though it was Mother’s Day, families stood in the drizzle with placards, bracelets and rubber bands as they cheered on the speakers.
Cars honked their horns in solidarity as they passed the colorful demonstration in front of the pool.
This comes after Aberdeen City Council cut funding to Sport Aberdeen as part of its effort to plug a £46.6million funding gap, which led to the closure of the two swimming facilities.
Hundreds of people from the area have attended meetings or protests since the budget cuts and over 8,500 have signed a petition to save the Bucksburn pool.
For many, the nearest swimming pool is the refurbished Northfield Swimming Pool – which is at least two bus rides away for those who can’t drive.
Others worry they may not be able to afford the cost of other private pools, with some charging up to £18 for an adult to swim and £8 for a child.
Pool enjoyed by generations
Four generations of Lisa Christie’s family use the Bucksburn pool.
The 49-year-old explained that she swims in the pool almost every day before work and that it has helped her lose eight stones.
As the grandmother stood in front of the pool with her son Daniel this afternoon, she described the plans to close the facility as a “shame”.
She said: “I actually lost eight stone and that has helped me in my journey and it still does.
“My kids use the pool, my daughter uses the pool for her 5 month old and my mom uses the pool too, she goes to Aqua Zumba – and that’s just one family.
“The amount of friends I’ve made here and my mom made friends who came here. It’s a big deal for a lot of people, and it’s not just about health, it’s also about the social aspect. And at the end of the day, it’s a life-saving skill.
“I just think for the size of Bucksburn it’s an absolute disgrace. I didn’t see this coming at all and I for one will be devastated.”
Mr Christie, who had learned to swim at Bucksburn Pool, agreed with his mother. The offshore logistician said: “I slipped two discs at the start of Covid and that’s why I started swimming again and it helped me.
“When I come in after 10 years, it’s exactly the same,” he laughed. “The only difference is that now I can stand in the deep end.
“We all came here at school, all my friends, and I think it’s a short-sighted decision.”
Fear that children will miss something
Many fear children would miss important swimming lessons if the facility closed, as over 900 children use the pool each week.
Bridge of Don’s Neil Duncan says his son, eight-year-old Ross, uses the Bucksburn Swimming Pool because it was the only one he could log into.
Mr Duncan, 41, said: “We have been coming here since the Beach Leisure Center closed. It was hard enough getting him here because there was nowhere to start.
“We’re staying in Bridge of Don and I’d be delighted if he keeps coming here, it’s an absolute nightmare right now. It’s booked up everywhere in Aberdeen – we’ve tried Bridge of Don, we’ve tried Northfield.
“One thing that’s very close to our hearts is that he learns to swim and it’s so good here. The staff is really good and the facility is very nice. Much better than some out there.”
He added: “Every swimming lesson is always fully booked.”
Encouraging more people to use their local facility
Bucksburn Pool is the only municipal facility with shallow pool steps, which many elderly and disabled people rely on to get in and out.
Angela Duncan, who uses the pool on a weekly basis, said the pool’s closure will be a “huge loss”.
The 75-year-old said: “It will be a huge loss if it closes. It’s pretty busy in the mornings, I spoke to someone earlier who said Saturdays are always busy.
“It’s the only one in town that you can enter and you have something to hold on to and it has a flat entrance. It’s surprising how many people come in and use it.”
However, 64-year-old Roland Reid uses the pool almost every day. He says that while the needs of children, retirees and people with special needs are catered for, there aren’t enough adults using the facility.
He explained: “Sometimes I’m the only one in the pool, so I really encourage people – if they’re really committed to saving the pool – to come along and participate.
“The sad thing is I don’t have a car, so I don’t have the option to drive to another pool.”
Activists are urging locals and pool users to stand before the council to “make more noise” during the Finance and Resources Committee meeting on March 29.
The Save Bucksburn Swimming Pool petition can be found here.
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[Campaigners wearing lifejackets and rubber rings protest closure of Bucksburn Swimming Pool]