Ulster pool closure goes to court…

It looks like the campaign to save the University pool at Jordanstown is making progress. As I type the case is being heard in the High Court in Belfast. Yesterday there was even an early motion in the House of Commons by Kate Hoey and so far supported by seventeen signatories, from UUP, DUP and the SDLP. SF MPs don’t participate in the Westminster parliament.From Sam Bride

The fight to keep the Swimming pool at the University of Ulster was taken to the High Court in Belfast today. Lawyers for the ‘Save our Pool’ group were seeking leave for judicial review, to force the University to review its decision to close the Jordanstown pool without consulting any of the pool’s users, including several schools for handicapped children.

Campaigners have had their numbers boosted with the addition of eight local politicians to the Save Our Pool committee and have had morale lifted by a Motion in the House of Commons calling on the University to reverse its decision to close the pool. Dermot Feenan, one of the campaigners says that ‘the University has never been taken to court before by as diverse a group of individuals, and is clearly on the back foot’.

Many students are returning to Jordanstown this week, unaware that the university has closed the pool. Sam McBride, vice-president of the canoe club is outraged at the manner in which the University sought to close the pool when staff and students were on holiday; “Jordanstown is hosting the Canoe varsities for the whole of Ireland in February and it is disgraceful that the University has taken away our training facilities without even consulting us”. “It appears the University has planned to close the pool for months, possibly years, yet they barely gave us a month’s warning that the pool would be closed for the start of term”

It has also emerged that the University was obliged by law to conduct an equality screening exercise, allowing a minimum of eight weeks of consultation before any decision on the pool’s future. Advice from the Equality commission reveals that this should be extended to allow for holidays. Given that no consultation took place, supporters of the pool believe that they have further grounds on which to challenge the University’s decision.

The case will continue in the High Court tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, in what the pool’s supporters trust will be the first hurdle to securing the pool’s future.