Where’s the payback Splashback?

03 Feb

The deal is that an under performing asset is to be sold off for £1.5 million pounds and significant overhead savings totalling another £4 million over the next twenty years in subsidies. This is written into Edinburgh Council operational plans with £1 million of the proceeds of the sale going towards the renovation of the Commonwealth Pool.

Yes I’m still banging on about Waterworld in Leith. The leisure pool has been closed for a year now and the Splashback group have had support to form an offer and build a realistic business plan. Last week saw this going to The Councillors who were evaluating the bid which has been dragging on for at least a year so far. The bid has made little progress although a business plan has been completed which doesn’t address any of the issues required to demonstrate that the group could successfully operate a challenging business.

Challenging. Yes. There’s a simple way of evaluating the success of any business. Does it make a profit? Not a huge profit just enough to build a rainy day fall back fund, continue to invest in the plant and machinery which needs to be maintained and replaced and use some of the profit to further support the growth of the business. Simple.

Except it isn’t. It’s even harder when you are planning to operate a leisure pool. Why? Well how many private facilities which are not subsidised, such as Waterworld, have you seen on your travels? Well none, none that are privately owned. There may be smaller facilities, which are a bit similar, but none of the scale of Waterworld. Why? Very simple. It is almost impossible to operate such a facility and get customers to pay enough to break even never mind make a profit.

Gym and hotel pools? An amount of money is added to the membership fees or to the room rates to cover the cost of gyms and pools etc. If they don’t make money they are gone. Simple.

Council run gyms, sports facilities, athletic stadiums, pools etc. never make money. They are subsidised. All council tax payers subsidise these facilities and the people who use them.

I’m not going to discus the pros and cons of subsidising. I’m certain that Splashback will be seeking as many subsidies as they possibly can get. Where will these subsidies come from? Take a wild guess? From taxpayers. Either directly from government or via various part government funded charities.

You think I am misleading you? The Councillors decided at the meeting last week, against the advice if their officers, that Splashback should be given £100,000 and twelve months to fully develop their plan. If the plan is good they will be given £350,000 over three years to “help” run Waterworld. So that’s almost half a million pounds of taxpayers money.

But it doesn’t end there. Oh no. Remember the £1 million, which was earmarked to go towards the upgrade of the Commonwealth pool? Obviously that won’t be forthcoming. No problem though. The council will borrow a million to meet the shortfall. Now when I say that the council will borrow the money that’s not true. The Edinburgh taxpayers will be the ones borrowing the money and they will also pay all of the instalments including the interest.

The only question I have is WHY?

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Posted by on February 3, 2013 in Charities, Edinburgh, Politics


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