Oxford Women's Health and Fitness Under Threat

The huge number of women who would be adversely affected by the closure of Temple Cowley Pools and Fitness Centre has made it an important issue for NOW members.

Oxford City Council wants to close down Temple Cowley Fitness Centre (swimming pool, diving pool, sauna/steam room suite, gym and exercise studio) and build a new 25m swimming pool next to the Blackbird Leys leisure centre. The majority of the users are women and children and many belong to ‘disadvantaged’ groups, and it is of great concern that a Labour-run council seems to want to abandon them. Whilst leisure facilities are often thought of as non-essential to wellbeing and ‘low’ on the priority list, we need to remember just how many people use them as a way of retaining their health, fitness and quality of life. Many older and disabled women and men, for example, use Temple Cowley (TCP) simply for essential exercise rather than ‘leisure’.

There are also many other aspects - as a high proportion of users of the centre are from minority groups for example women from ethnic minority backgrounds and religions where they can only use the facilities during ‘women only’ sessions and who say that they would not be able to use an alternative facility in Blackbird Leys due to its location being too far away from where they live or work. Added to that, there are:

  • the finances - over £13m for a new pool, £3m to refurbish Temple Cowley
  • carbon emissions – Temple Cowley is the most energy efficient leisure centre
  • transport – Blackbird Leys estate is not designed for the predicted number of visitors

There has been no consultation on the proposed closure of TCP and therefore people are very unhappy with the council ignoring the needs of Oxford women, children and men.

The campaign http://SaveTempleCowleyPools.webs.com has more information on its website including the reports of the councils own condition survey which shows TCP to be ‘Mid-life’ and in ‘Fair Condition’, which is not surprising considering that the swimming pool,  gym and sauna suite only opened to the public in 1987 (on the site of the previous pool which lasted for almost 50 years), and the gym was refitted just over 5 years ago. The architect has said that when he built it he designed to have at least a 50 or 60 year life expectancy. The proposed pool for Blackbird Leys has only a 25 year life expectancy and it is not even built yet.

This ‘built in failure’ in many things now is wasteful and unnecessary. Let us keep what we have, where we have it and people want to use it and look after it properly.

Please look at the website as soon as possible. You can also link to the online petition and leave a comment. Thank you from the many ‘disempowered’ women of Oxford.


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Sunday, 7 October, 2012