D E M O L I T I O N U P D A T E
June, 2016. 18 months after closure, the Temple Cowley Pools building still stands empty and unused. The pools have been drained, otherwise the building remains in excellent condition despite no maintenance. Remember, this is the building that the Labour-controlled city council claimed was at 'risk of imminent catastrophic failure' so had to be shut. And, oh yes, meanwhile over at the new Blackbird Leys Swimming Pool that cost over £13m of our money - guess what - it's leaking!!
at Temple Cowley Pools, Catalyst have finally submitted their planning
application - apparently it's a 'done deal'. If developers ever wanted
to know how to 'persuade' a planning committee to approve their
application, this is it. Offer the Council cash - in this case, £3.6m,
if they approve the application - whenever it arrives. No conflict of
interest there then. We'll see what happens as the planning process
proceeds - but with Labour (and only Labour) refusing to allow the
community to take over the site and run it for the people, and with all
committees now stacked with a Labour majority, we fully anticipate
Catalyst's application to be waved through. And then we'll be into a
in the meantime, at any moment Catalyst, supported by the Council (now
we've found the incriminating emails we can prove it), could start
demolition. Before they have the planning application approved. Is this
right? Particularly when the Temple Cowley Campaign is ready, willing
and able to take over the site, run the centre profitably at no cost to
the taxpayer, or the City Council, and build flats. Even Catalyst's
planners and architects thought it was a better plan than theirs. But
still they doggedly persist in pursuing taking away a health and fitness
facility - denying 40,000 of the population appropriate access to
exercise affordably in a gym, swimming pool, studio, sauna/steam suite
and yes, the only diving pool in Oxfordshire. Shame on Labour
councillors for ignoring the whole truth and voting as they are told -
shame on Oxford City Council officers for not doing what they are paid
to do - provide facilities that the public want and need, where they
want and need them.
COCKUP? CONSPIRACY? MORE TANGLED WEB OF DECEIT
Things have taken yet another twist in the neverending story of who's responsible for demolition. We've had another email this week from the Council, revealing - well, we're not quite sure. Read on below.
So, remember the saga as it unfolded, described below?
- We (and you, dear readers, thanks) contact the Council to ask the to stop Catalyst demolishing Temple Cowely Pools
- Labour Leader Cllr Bob Price denies categorically that the Council told Catalyst to demolish
- Labour MP Andrew Smith dutifully repeats this assertion to everyone who contacts him
- We uncover an email under FOI clearly showing it was the Council wot dunnit
Leader Cllr Bob Price claims he 'wasn't aware' of this email -
apparently he doesn't bother checking with his council officers on
Head of Housing Stephen Clarke is forced to put his head over the
parapet with a quote to the paper saying they prepared a health and
safety report for Catalyst
Well the report was news to us. So we asked the Council for a copy. Guess what came back? An email, delayed until after the election, saying:
"Mr Clarke informs me that although a report was referred to in the article, in fact no such report was produced, and thus the reference to it was an error on behalf of the Council."
And it goes on to say:
"Mr Clarke also wishes me to convey his apologies for this factual inaccuracy contained in the quote."
No explanation - but how is it possible for a senior manager at the Council to say something that is so obviously untrue? We think the public should be told. And we still think that the Temple Cowley building should stand until and unless Catalyst get their planning permission in exchange for their pieces of silver.
Thanks to Oxfordshire Guardian - Oxmailtimes in Council pocket again?
Labour Council Leader "wasn't aware" of the email! So why didn't he check?!!!
At the Full Council Meeting on Monday, 18th April 2016, we asked why Council Leader Bob Price had misled the public in responding to their pleas to stop the demolition of the Temple Cowley Pools building. His response? He "wasn't aware" of the email! This raises so many questions about transparency, oversight and accountability in this Labour-run Council. Was Cllr Price so arrogant that he felt he didn't have to check the position? Clearly people were concerned, yet he took it on himself to answer without referring to council officers? And why didn't council officers make him aware anyway? The Chief Executive Peter Sloman MUST have been aware of the decision taken by council officers to demolish the pool, and the public were writing to him as well! And how many other issues have been treated like this and not exposed to public gaze? We should be told.
The Incriminating Email - Council Exposed - naive or arrogant?
is the incriminating email that shows clearly how Oxford City Council
have misled everyone - not just the public, but also their very own
Labour MP Andrew Smith.
Our thanks to those who wrote to the Council at the end of last year, asking for demolition of Temple Cowley Pools to be delayed.
Time and again the Labour Leader, Cllr Bob Price, replied to concerned members of the community telling us that demolition had nothing to do with the Council; apparently all Catalyst Housing's decision.
Well, we wanted to know the truth. So we asked. But the Council didn't tell us willingly. It's taken us a long time, and information about this disastrous fiasco is still being withheld, way beyond the statutory time limit. We were forced to use a Freedom of Information request to show that, after all, the Council is responsible for wanting to demolish Temple Cowley Pools before Catalyst Housing submit their planning application for redevelopment.
Here is the incriminating email - dated 3rd July 2015, months before a hint of demolition became public. We've asked Cllr Price to explain himself - at the next Full Council Meeting on Monday, April 18th. Come along at 7pm to hear what he's got to say to the many thousands of Oxford citizens who cannot understand why a Labour administration is still refusing, 7 years on, to work with the community to give us the health and fitness facilities we want and need, where we want and need them.
Yes, it’s happening again; Oxford City Council and Catalyst Housing are determined to demolish Temple Cowley Pools, a registered Asset of Community Value, before any Planning Application to build housing that’s way too dense.
What can you do? Read on, and please do whatever you can as soon as possible.
Oxford City Council STILL OWNS THE SITE! The council, including Labour councillors, have been telling us since last December that the TCP site has been sold. This is NOT TRUE. Catalyst Housing will only take possession and ownership if the Council grants planning permission in return for £3.6m – no conflict of interest there then. The Council can tell Catalyst to delay demolition until after they have planning permission for the new housing – please ask the Council to delay demolition. It simply doesn’t make sense – if demolition happens, and then Catalyst don’t get planning permission, the council will be left with a plot of land with nothing on it, and the community will have nowhere for health and fitness, when we could have taken it over and run it at no cost to the Council. Write to:
Chief Executive Peter Sloman – email@example.com
Labour Leader, Councillor Bob Price – firstname.lastname@example.org
and your local councillors or any that you know. Please let us know if you get a reply.
Catalyst Housing has applied to demolish the site, and say that the timing of demolition is up to the Council. Please write to Catalyst asking them to delay demolition:
Catalyst Housing - David Truesdale - email@example.com
Savills (agents) - Roger Smith - RASmith@Savills.com - 01865 269057
Demolition Application ref : 15/03107/DEM – Temple Cowley Pools, Temple Road, Cowley, OX4 2EZ
Catalyst have submitted an application for demolition – please go on the council website asap (www.oxford.gov.uk/planning) and register your comment. If you want reasons to object, we have collected a list just below here. It's a long intense read, but use whatever you think is relevant to what you want to say about the Catalyst notification of demolition supported by the Council.
We believe that this application is contrary to Part 11, Class B, of Schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development (England) Order 2015 (GPDO).
The Application Form incorrectly states that there are NO Public Rights of Way within the site or immediately adjoining the site. There are rights of way for St. Christopher’s Primary School, the Silver Band Hall, and the Temple Cowley Library within or immediately adjoining the site, as well as for any member of the public on the public pavement immediately adjoining the site. This false statement needs, at least, to be corrected, even if it is insufficient grounds for withdrawing and re-submitting the application.
Temple Cowley Pools has been recognised by the City Council as being an Asset of Community Value, which means that it is recognised as being of huge value to Cowley and the wider community. The Save Temple Cowley Pools Campaign is still attempting to save the Pools for local use, and combine its re-development with affordable local housing.. Asset status reinforces the argument for not demolishing the Pools until an alternative development proposal has been submitted AND APPROVED.