Socialist Worker

Occupation against swimming pool closure makes waves

by Tom Walker
Issue No. 2166

Protesters occupied Sedgemoor Splash swimming pool in Bridgwater, Somerset at 3pm today. They are demanding that the Tory-run council reverses plans to close the pool.

Glen Burrows of Bristol RMT spoke to Socialist Worker from inside the occupation. She said, “The council is planning to close the pool on Sunday.

“There's been a single bidder for the site the whole time – Tesco. The council just wants the money. But we need another supermarket like we need a hole in the head.

“We have this wonderful facility that is used by all sorts of groups – all the different people who are here. The council say they can’t afford the running costs, but we could take it over and run it if they don’t want it.”

About 30 people are inside the building, including trade unionists, Labour councillors, disabled swimmers and children. Occupiers include members of the RMT, Unite, CWU, NUS and Unison unions.

They intend to continue their “swim-in” until their demands are met.

The council chief executive has offered the pool a seven-day “stay of execution” if the occupiers will come out.

The council has locked the doors of the pool to prevent anyone else from joining the protest, but has promised to let people out. Nobody has left so far.

The occupiers are calling on the people of Bridgwater and around the country to join them in their protest to save the Splash.

“We got the idea from the occupation on the Isle of Wight,” says Glen. “We had a meeting with a Vestas worker a few weeks ago. It was so inspiring.

“People love this pool. It’s like any small town. We’ve lost the post office, we’re losing this – what next, the library? It’s time to say enough is enough.

“We don’t want a Tesco – we want a swimming pool. Whatever happens with the occupation, we’ll be here to stop the bulldozers. We won’t let them do this.”

UPDATE: Protesters were evicted from the pool on Saturday 29 August after a court injunction.

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Article information

Fri 28 Aug 2009, 17:46 BST
Issue No. 2166
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