Future of Leith Waterworld remains in the balance

Councillors today rejected a community bid to operate Leith Waterworld but left the door open for an improved submission in four months time.

In a motion tabled by the Capital Coalition, voted through at today's Council meeting, dedicated assistance was offered to the campaign group, Splashback, to enable them to submit a revised and more robust business case by 31 January, 2013.

The bid must be commercially acceptable and demonstrate best value to Council tax payers or the property will be remarketed for sale.The closing date had previously been extended by six months (to 7 August) to allow Splashback time to develop and submit their bid to buy and manage Leith Waterworld. This followed a decision taken in 2005 to put the property up for sale as part of the plans to finance the refurbishment of the Royal Commonwealth Pool.

Two bids were received - both from Splashback - although one was deemed to be invalid. The remaining bid was reviewed by property consultants GVA but was found to require substantial subsidy from the Council - £900,000 in the first three years, if re-commissioning costs of £155,000 were taken into account.

Speaking at today's meeting, Cllr Richard Lewis, Culture and Leisure Convener said:

"The Council agreed in February to postpone the sale of Leith Waterworld for six months to allow Splashback to come forward with their proposals - and I want to acknowledge the time and effort the group have already committed to this.

"I said previously that I would be delighted if an affordable and achievable community bid came forward but, unfortunately, Splashback's business case falls well short of what is required and, if accepted, would leave the council with an unjustifiable financial burden, particularly in the current economic climate.

"The hugely successful London 2012 Games have rightly put the spotlight on the city's sporting facilities but it is my responsibility to ensure that our attention and investment is spread proportionately across the city and its residents.

"All that said, we have identified a window of opportunity and are committed to offering Splashback every possible assistance in bringing forward a more robust and commercially viable bid for consideration by Council in January."

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