Scottish Government pulls plug on swimming pool for civil servants

Union says government did not hold consultation before closing the pool in Edinburgh
Victoria Quay, Edinburgh. Photo: Sally Anderson/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

16 Dec 2022

The Scottish Government has decided to permanently close a swimming pool for civil servants at offices in Edinburgh to save money and reduce carbon emissions.

The decision to close the pool at Victoria Quay, one of the Scottish Government's main buildings, without any consultation “clearly demonstrates the leadership have no regard for staff wellbeing or community health”, a government source told the Daily Record.

They said they have “never known a decision alienate staff as much as this” and questioned why “no thought about opening it up to the community who are in need of leisure facilities”.

An email to civil servants, seen by the newspaper, stated: “This decision follows a review to look at reducing our carbon footprint across the estate and will eradicate the costs and carbon emissions associated with running our only pool, providing better value for money for the people of Scotland and supporting the Scottish Government to meet its ambitious net zero emissions target by 2045.”

The pool, which was for civil servants' use, was closed temporarily in 2020 as part of Covid lockdown restrictions and never reopened, with the government spending close to £80,000 on maintaining the pool over the last three years.

Joy Dunn of PCS said the civil service union would have welcomed the opportunity to discuss the proposal before the decision was made and explore other options.

“However, this was a unilateral decision by management that has been badly handled and made without any meaningful consultation with the users of the pool,” she told the Record.

“At a time where staff are being encouraged to go back into offices management have totally disregarded the benefits of improving health and wellbeing.”

The decision to continue maintaining the pool for the las three years has also been criticised, with Labour and Lib Dem MSPs describing the £78,000 outlay as a "substantial waste of public money" and "throwing money down the drain".

Scotland’s finance secretary last month unveiled £615m of cuts to balance the books after revealing inflation had left the government’s budget £1.7bn worse off than in December.

A Scottish Government spokesperson told the paper: “We are committed to transitioning Scotland to net zero, and the swimming pool in Victoria Quay has been highlighted as part of a review of carbon savings.

“Carbon emissions, increasing costs and under-utilisation have led to the conclusion that keeping the pool running is no longer the right thing to do.”

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