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‘You’ve underestimated Bucksburn – and you WON’T be closing this pool’: Hundreds attend meeting to save Aberdeen venue

An action group will now be formed to fight for the pool, which is set to close in April after a £700,000 council cut.

An action group will be formed after a packed public meeting about the future of Bucksburn Swimming Pool.
Hundreds of people attended the Bucksburn Swimming Pool meeting on Tuesday evening. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

Emotional Bucksburn residents are rallying to save their beloved swimming pool – with an action group now spearheading the campaign.

More than 200 people cleared the snow from their cars and braved icy pavements to attend a busy public meeting on Tuesday night.

Many crowded against the walls of the Beacon Centre’s dance studio, with all the seats quickly snapped up.

And few held back in showing just how much the soon-to-close Bucksburn Swimming Pool means to them.

Locals were able to have their say during the impassioned public meeting about saving Bucksburn Swimming Pool. Image: Wullie Marr / DC Thomson

The meeting was organised by local mum Kirsty Fraser within a matter of days following the shock announcement of its impending closure last week.

The blow came after the council slashed operator Sport Aberdeen’s funding by £700,000 – while knowing how dire the consequences would be.

And the plug is set to be pulled on the pool on April 16, pitting locals in a desperate race against time to keep the doors open.

Bucksburn Swimming Pool has been earmarked for closure in a few weeks. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

Bucksburn swimming pool meeting acts as springboard for campaign

Kirsty began the session by outlining its “single objective”: to stop the swimming pool being closed.

The mum-of-two learned to swim at the same Aberdeen institution where her 11-year-old daughter was taught the life-saving skill.

She convened the public meeting to see if locals could “make a difference”.

“Taking it away is just a kick in the teeth after everything we have been through in the last few years,” she said.

Kirsty Fraser was in “disbelief” when she learned about the popular venue closing down. Image: Wullie Marr / DC Thomson

‘We are a working class community with a big heart’

The venue opened in the 1970s following a huge fundraising drive, with £50,000 amassed by locals.

Newly-elected councillor Graham Lawrence was one of the youngsters who stuffed Smarties tubes with coins, washed cars and carried out odd jobs to contribute to the tally.

Graham Lawrence reminisced about the fundraising efforts to provide Bucksburn with its own pool decades ago. Image: Wullie Marr / DC Thomson

He added: “That’s why the community is so invested in the pool.

“If we fight long enough and hard enough, we may well overturn this.”

And the Dyce, Bucksburn and Danestone member said “money suddenly being found” to continue Big Noise Torry after a council cut should instil some hope.

Meanwhile, Gillian Burt said: “Never forget how hard we fought to get this pool… We should fight together to save it.

“We are a working class community but we have a big heart.

“And this is one of the few things that brings joy, and promotes mental and physical health for us all.”

Placard carrying pupils of Bankhead Academy along with Bucksburn District councillors Betty Anderson and Ronnie Alexander (front, right) and regional councillor George Grant (back, left) hand over a petition bearing 4,925 signatures to Wilson Stephen. Image: DC Thomson

Speaking up from the back of the hall, Karen Robertson added: “Generations and generations have grown up with this pool.

“I think the powers that be have underestimated how strong a community we are in Bucksburn…

“We have read it in the newspapers about swimming pools being closed all over Aberdeen, but you won’t be closing this one!”

Kirsty Fraser addresses the sea of attendees. Image: Wullie Marr / DC Thomson

‘This is my happy place’

The meeting also heard how Bucksburn Swimming Pool is the only one in Aberdeen with steps leading into the shallow end.

They make it easier for children and people with mobility issues to enter the water, with few other options available come the middle of next month.

Emotional pensioners stood up to describe the physical and mental benefits the pool has offered them – providing a setting for gentle exercise and socialising.

One woman told the assembly: “Swimming is my happy place… This is my happy place.

“It’s where I come two or three times a week, and it’s the first thing I think of if I feel really ticked off at home…

“I can’t focus properly if I don’t swim.”

Poignant tributes were paid to the impact of the swimming pool during the Bucksburn meeting. Image: Wullie Marr / DC Thomson

Can people go to Dyce instead?

Sport Aberdeen bosses are looking into making use of the pool two miles away at Dyce Academy to continue lessons for children.

But this would preclude adults from using it during the day, and the same number of lessons may not take place with pupils being given priority.

Dyce Academy, pictured, could be used to ensure Bucksburn residents don’t miss out on swimming.

One mum raised the point that the pool there is shallow all the way through, meaning children won’t be able to practise swimming in deeper water.

And pensioners voiced fears about venturing out in the dark to visit the Dyce pool should it only be open in the evening.

What other concerns were flagged at Bucksburn Swimming Pool meeting?

Fears were also raised for the 80 pupils with additional support needs from Bucksburn Academy who use it.

A retired swimming coach explained the school timetable wouldn’t allow them enough flexibility to take lessons elsewhere in the city.

The campaign to save the pool was featured on the front page of the Evening Express at the weekend. Image: Roddie Reid/DC Thomson

About 7,000 people have already backed a petition to save the swimming pool.

Mark Brown, president of Bucksburn Amateur Swimming Club, attended the talks after telling us of his fears children will miss out on learning how to swim.

What next for Bucksburn Swimming Pool battle?

The meeting drew to a close after two hours of impassioned calls.

Interested locals were then asked to come forward to form an action group.

Kirsty is today looking through the list of volunteers as the campaign comes to life.

The team will look at ways to secure funding for the pool’s future while battling to convince those in charge to keep it open.

Many locals had their say. Image: Wullie Marr / DC Thomson

What obstacles need to be overcome?

The funding cut came as the council faces “unprecedented” financial pressure.

SNP and Liberal Democrat administration leaders said tough cuts had been made to preserve school funding and pay for projects aimed at reducing poverty.

And Sport Aberdeen explained that Bucksburn Swimming Pool is operating at a loss.

Announcing the closure, the organisation said ageing machinery would need £400,000 of repairs.

Managing director Alistair Robertson attended the meeting and told the crowd that the “difficult decision” was made to help keep the charity itself afloat.

Read more from Mr Robertson’s candid address to the meeting here:

‘I have failed…’: Aberdeen pool boss lifts lid on Bucksburn closure and fears of crippling member exodus