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Save Bucksburn Pool campaigners seek answers over funding cuts

Sport Aberdeen: 'no time' to complete a 'formal' impact assessment before Council set budget

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

Campaigners have hit back at claims that Sport Aberdeen did not have enough time to complete an impact assessment about the closure of Bucksburn Swimming Pool.

As a result of Aberdeen City Council's 2023/2024 budget, approved on 1 March, funding for Sport Aberdeen was reduced by 700,000 pounds, leaving the charity without enough money to keep open Bucksburn Swimming Pool.

Sarah Gray, Sport Aberdeen's Head of Marketing and Commercial Development, told The Gaudie that there wasn't enough time to conduct a 'formal impact assessment' ahead of the decision to close the beloved community pool.

She said: 'Sport Aberdeen had its commissioning fee [funding] confirmed by Aberdeen City Council on March 1st 2023; it was reduced by £0.7m. Our Board of Directors met on the same day, and with very limited preparation time, it accepted the measures that were required for the company to deal with...'

'There was no time to conduct any formal impact assessment, however, there was a full analysis of the options available and implications arising, following the publication of the ACC budget on Feb 22nd 2023. With one week real time, only a certain level of impact assessment could be undertaken.'

Gray explained that a combination of £0.65m earmarked for rising operating costs and the £0.7m funding cut meant that Bucksburn Pool would not be able to stay open.

However, campaigners with Save Bucksburn Pool have hit back at Sport Aberdeen's claims, commenting that the registered charity had been aware of the potential cuts months ahead of the budget vote.

A statement read: 'We don’t accept the excuse that Sport Aberdeen and Aberdeen City Council only had ‘a week’ to carry out a limited impact assessment on closing Bucksburn Swimming Pool.

At the Beacon Centre meeting on 7 March 2023, Alistair Robertson of Sport Aberdeen confirmed that his organisation had been in talks with ACC about the possibility of Bucksburn Swimming Pool closing, months before the budget was even announced.

Since both parties knew that the pool’s closure was a strong possibility, Sport Aberdeen and ACC should have begun work on Equality Impact Assessments back then. As a Council arms length charity and as the local authority, these bodies both have a duty to uphold the Equality Act.'

Campaigners also commented on the implications of the closure for pupils with additional support needs from nearby Bucksburn Academy, who use the pool (which has stepped access) several times a week.

The statement said: 'We also question whether the law was followed in terms of making changes to educational provision for the pupils of the ASN Wing at Bucksburn Academy. These young people come to the ASN Wing from all across Aberdeen City, and they use Bucksburn pool twice per week for their education. We believe the pool’s closure should also have been appropriately assessed for SEN provision impact. The fact that this did not cross anyone’s mind shows how shockingly out of touch the people in charge of our city are.

It is clear that there was a need for an Equalities Impact Assessment, with the vast amount of people who are being impacted by this decision—many of whom are the most vulnerable of our society. The citizens of Aberdeen deserve much better!'

Concerns over the Council's budget proceedure are not unprecedented. Similar concerns were raised by campaigners and library users last week, after The Gaudie uncovered the Council's failure to complete impact assessments for two of the libraries that closed due to funding cuts.

The Gaudie reached out to the four councillors who represent Dyce/Bucksburn/Danestone (Barney Crockett- LAB, Neil MacGregor- SNP, Gill Al-Samarai- SNP, and Graeme Lawrence- LAB) for comment, but none had responded by Tuesday afternoon.

Bucksburn Pool will close on 16 April, along with the Beach Lesiure Centre.


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