Save Temple Cowley Pools & Fitness Centre!

The Campaign to Save Temple Cowley Pools & Fitness Centre!

Have you put in an objection to Catalyst's Planning Application? Make your opinion known - click here for info
Oxfordshire Guardian does it again on the Campaign - shame on Cllr Price for not telling all the story...

D E M O L I T I O N   U P D A T E

See Demolition Diary for more info; see Council Duplicity for inaccurate, incomplete, misleading & untrue info
Friday, 26th August 2016: The full extent of what's been demolished this week is here:
Monday, 22nd August 2016: The demolition continues, into the reception area.
Saturday, 20th August 2016: A view of what's been done to Temple Cowley Pools during the past week.

Labour Council Leader Bob Price is still claiming that they don't own the site and that demolition has nothing to do with the Council. This is incorrect - the Council told Catalyst to start demolition, and the Council can stop demolition at any time. Nothing should happen at Temple Cowley until after the Planning Application has been decided.

This mindless act of vandalism by the Labour-controlled Council is totally at odds with the brilliant feedback and engagement we experienced at the Elder Stubbs Festival. The Campaign stall was busy throughout the day; not one person, of the many hundreds who visited, thought that the Council is doing the right thing - everyone wants Temple Cowley Pools kept for the community.
Wednesday, 17th August 2016: The senseless, vindictive destruction continues:

Council Misleads the Public - AGAIN

The following email was sent on the morning of Friday 12th August to the Council. No response as yet, nearly a week later - Bob has a reputation for replying quickly to emails. We wonder why he has chosen not to respond:

To: Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council


A member of the public has passed me an email exchange they’ve just had with you (included, anonymised, below this email), in which they asked you to instruct Catalyst Housing to delay demolition of Temple Cowley Pools until after their Planning Application has been determined.

I have to say I am disappointed with your response, as it is highly misleading and also untrue, and I would ask you to publicly acknowledge the inaccuracies, apologise to the member of public concerned, and indeed to ask Catalyst to delay any further demolition work at this point.


  • Oxford City Council owns the freehold of the Temple Cowley Pools site 
  • The Council has asserted that it has signed both a leasehold agreement and a contract of sale with Catalyst Housing. Despite repeated requests under Freedom of Information from several members of the public, the Council has failed to release a signed copy (redacted or otherwise) of either document. As far as the public is concerned, there is no contract with Catalyst Housing until the Council makes the evidence public. In any event, ownership of the site will remain with the City Council until (a) the Council approves a Catalyst planning application for 48 dwellings and (b) Catalyst pays the Council £3.6m.
  • There is a provision in the contract with Catalyst for the Council to instruct demolition to take place. 
  • The Council has instructed Catalyst to proceed with demolition – this was in (at least) a July 2015 email revealed under Freedom of Information. I asked you about this email in a question to Full Council in April this year, when you said that you were "unaware" of the email concerned. You are of course now aware of this, and what it contains, so should not be telling members of the public that demolition has nothing to do with the Council.

Your assertion that Catalyst owns the site is untrue. Your assertion that the timing of demolition is up to Catalyst is misleading, as they are only proceeding with demolition at your insistence.

Demolition at this point makes no sense for a number of reasons:

  • The Catalyst planning application has not been considered by the City Council; if refused, it would be better to make use of the existing building (through a Community Asset Transfer)
  • The Council is paying for the demolition, and insisting it is done before the outcome of the Planning Application – the Council has committed £750,000 when it may be a totally unnecessary outlay of public funds
  • There remain health and safety concerns regarding access on the rights of way at the Temple Cowley Pools site that have not been satisfactorily resolved

I ask you again, on behalf of the 40,000 people in East Oxford directly affected by your actions, as well as the many thousands of people who see the Council actions as senseless, to instruct Catalyst to stop any and all demolition activity immediately.

Nigel Gibson

Director, SaveTCP Community Interest Company

The following is the email to the Council and the response from Cllr Price:

From: Councillor PRICE Bob

Sent: ‎10/‎08/‎2016 17:05


Cc: Councillor MALIK Sajjad-Hussain; Councillor ABBASI Mohammed; Councillor HENWOOD Dave; Councillor SIMM Christine

Subject: RE: Please STOP plans for demolishing Temple Cowley Pools


The site is now owned by Catalyst.HA. The decision on the timing of the demolition is entirely theirs, and there has been no ‘instruction’ from the City Council.

Good wishes

Cllr Bob Price


Sent:10 August 2016

To: Councillor PRICE Bob

Subject: FW: Please STOP plans for demolishing Temple Cowley Pools

Dear Mr. Sloman and Mr. Price,

We have been informed that Catalyst (under the Council's instruction) will shortly be demolishing Temple Cowley Pools.

Can I request that this instruction please be withdrawn, and that any further activity at TCP await the outcome of the planning application that will come to the Committee soon.

Thanking you

Yours faithfully

186 Objections to Catalyst's Planning Application to destroy TCP - add another, make your voice known

Object to the Planning Application - email - see here for suggestions on valid objections on planning grounds. Add your own experiences of how much longer it takes to go somewhere different, how much more it costs, and how much less frequently you go. You can comment as many times as you like, and everyone in your household regardless of age can put in their own objection - losing TCP is real for you, make it real for the City Council planners who are determined to override public opinion! 

Demolition Contractors now on site - this is what they are destroying:

These pictures were taken inside Temple Cowley Pools early in 2016 - you can see  a perfectly sound building, ready to be taken over by the community and run at no cost to the Council. But as we can see now all too clearly, our Labour run City Council has no intention of working for the public good, and is determined to pursue its 'sweetheart' deal with Catalyst - getting £3.6m in return for granting planning permission.


Contractors, ordered by the City Council, came on site on Monday, 13th June, 2016. They started 'internal' demolition, until it was pointed out that they were not complying with the demolition regulations approved by the Council Planning Department. Six weeks later, they are back, and implementing the destruction ordered by Oxford City Council.

As of 7th July 1st 12th August, the senseless destruction has started. We continue to lobby the Labour councillors who could easily call a halt at any moment.

We continue to try and stop the work - it makes absolutely no sense to demolish the building now, before planning permission has been granted. The Council hopes that by getting rid of the building, they will face less opposition - they are wrong. The Campaign will continue to oppose demolition, the planning application, and challenge the City Council on their 5 year Leisure Strategy, voted through by ALL the Labour Councillors, which states that there will be no replacement for Temple Cowley Pools until at least 2021. If these are your councillors in East Oxford, please contact them and

  • ask them why they are so opposed to the community running Temple Cowley Pools,
  • tell them how difficult/costly/inconvenient it is to get to any other leisure centre, and
  • ask why they are not responding to their constituents.

These councillors who have voted against the wishes of their constituents are:

Cowley: David Henwood, Christine Simm
Cowley Marsh: Mohammed Abassi, Saj Malik
Lye Valley: Pat Kennedy, Ben Lloyd-Shogbesan

If you know any other Labour councillors, please contact them and ask them the same things, but also why they feel able to vote outside their ward on an issue that is clearly not in the interest of the people who live there.


August, 2016. 18 months after closure, the Temple Cowley Pools building still stood empty and unused. The pools had been drained, otherwise the building remained 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!!

Back 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 - which is now in, awaiting a rubber stamp of approval from the Council Planning Department. 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 by the committees. And then we'll be into a legal challenge.

And at the moment Catalyst, supported, encouraged and actually TOLD by the Council (now we've found the incriminating emails we can prove it), have started demolition. ILLEGALLY. Before they have the planning application approved. Is this right? Particularly when the Save Temple Cowley Pools 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 as well. 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. 

The ideal result is still for the Council and Catalyst Housing (or another housing association if they don't want to play) to work with the community through the SaveTCP CIC to retain the Temple Cowley Pools main hall, and integrate new housing and community facilities into a rebuilt 'dryside' area. This is all still possible, and those in control need to realise that it is simply THE RIGHT THING TO DO.


Peggy instructing the audience to "Object!" when something's wrong, as she and the Headington Hillbillies prepare to launch into the final song - a new Campaign song for which they revised the lyrics to Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land". A brilliant, inspired end to a great, inspiring, evening. Thanks to everyone who was able to come along.
A packed Cowley Workers Social Club witnessed our best fundraising concert yet. After a great intro, poet and comedian Steve Larkin led proceedings with performances from the Headington Hillbillies, then Peggy Seeger. After a short break we saw how Govanhill Baths in Glasgow was eventually handed back to the people by a Labour Council who simply didn't want to listen (where have we heard that before). And then Peggy came back for the wonderful finale and the great new Campaign song.

We have many thanks to give, not only to the performers giving so freely of their time, but also Mike Abbott on sound, Mike Kalougin on projection, a myriad of volunteers who made it all work and a special thanks to all who donated food.

We are honoured that Peggy Seeger has chosen to help the Campaign to Save Temple Cowley Pools over many years. She has contributed time and energy, writing a song for the Campaign, speaking in Council and renouncing her Labour Party membership, and including us in interviews on national radio. Read a review of one of her concerts here


Now in our SEVENTH year of campaigning, with massive continuing public support - the City Council wanted Temple Cowley Pools shut over three years ago, but you have all helped keep TCP open until last December. During that additional time users enjoyed more than half a million more visits, we exposed the Council propaganda as a combination of Inaccurate, Incomplete, Misleading and Untrue, and played our part in getting the right to video at Council meetings. 

The decision to sell the site to a commercial developer, Catalyst, has been taken and the Labour Council has closed yet another facility in Cowley. The exact conditions in the contract remain murky, demonstrating yet again the lack of openness and transparency when Oxford City Council decides not to work with the public they are there to serve.

But the Campaign continues into 2015, challenging the decisions, confronting the propaganda and working every way we can so that the community can again have the facilities it wants and needs, where it wants and needs them, in Cowley.


March 2015 Update

The local media have noticed that it’s been three months since the Labour Council’s decision to finally close Temple Cowley Pools and sell the site to Catalyst for housing development, apparently guaranteeing them planning permission for twice the permitted housing density, breaching the Council’s own core policies. 

There is a three month time limit on bringing Judicial Review proceedings. The Campaign announced on hearing about the closure, and to a council meeting, that our preferred option would be to work with a housing association to keep health and fitness facilities where they are needed in Cowley (remembering that you can’t swim in a gym, however new and good it may be). However, the Council doggedly refused to entertain any sort of discussion with us, leaving our only option to be a legal route. Over the last twelve weeks we have explored all sorts of possible options – unlike the council, if the public donate money to the Campaign we feel obliged to use it in the best possible way.

We certainly could have taken the Council to Judicial Review, but winning our case would not have changed things. The Council has committed to a contract with Catalyst that can’t be unpicked easily, and a judge, whatever the merits of a case, will find it difficult to order the contract to be undone.

So, we are looking to the next stage, where Catalyst has to make a planning application for their development. The Labour-controlled City Council has breached its own core policies in promising Catalyst twice the housing density it is supposed to allow anywhere else in the city. Catalyst have apparently been promised they will get planning permission in exchange for £3.6m. The exact deal remains shrouded in mystery, despite the Council claiming it is open and transparent. Both correspondence and the formal Freedom of Information requests have been either ignored or resulted in differing views on the ‘arrangement’ which don’t seem to fit together.

In closing Temple Cowley Pools, the Labour City Council has actively and willingly destroyed a community, against the clear wishes of the people they have been elected to serve.

We believe this is unfair, unjust, illegal and totally against the wishes of the Temple Cowley community. This is where we are focusing now. We will need legal support, so please give what you can – see our Donations page for details on how you can help.

HUGE Risk to the Council

The Labour Council's decision to sell the Temple Cowley Pools site and their closure of the centre at 4pm on 23rd December 2014 presents them with a huge risk. The Council's "Core Strategy" contains a number of policies with which any council decision must comply. The closure clearly breaches CS21 (page 105), which states:

In other parts of the UK, individuals have defied their council, mortgaged their houses to go to Judicial Review, and won - forcing the council to rebuild and reopen their health and fitness facility. The Labour led Oxford City Council need to be aware that they have acted against the wishes of the people who elected them, and we will continue to work to keep health, fitness and community facilities in Temple Cowley even if the Council proceeds to demolish the centre.

The Save Temple Cowley Pools Campaign has been fighting since 2009 to keep open the Temple Cowley Pools & Fitness Centre in Temple Road, Oxford, condemned to closure by Oxford City Council. The Council rushed to close the site at 4pm on 23rd December 2014, without any notice to the public, and boarded up the centre with people still swimming in it!


We have huge support across Oxford to keep the centre open, including the first petition that reached over 12,000 signatures before we stopped - the largest in Oxford, simply ignored by the administration. We've continued with a succession of petitions that show people's frustration with the City Council. Petition number 8 was debated at the Council meeting in November 2014.


During December 2014, the Council continued to defy public opinion, voting in an all-Labour City Executive Board meeting to go with a commercial developer wanting to put 47 dwellings and 53 car park spaces on the site. Our community Social Enterprise proposal, presented by the SaveTCP community interest company, was dismissed without any public discussion, and without us being told what the council would find acceptable. Our proposal represents £20m annual value delivered to the community, and the council has defied its voters and shown it is simply not interested. The Greens called in the decision to Scrutiny Committee on 23rd December, and despite Green and LibDem support, the 3 councillors were not about to turn over the well managed and "on message" 8 Labour councillors who knew what they had to do, so the decision stands - for now.

At 4pm on the 23rd December 2014 the Council closed TCP - the Campaign continues to challenge the Council decisions and work to keep the facilities the Cowley community wants and needs, where they want and need them.

Please browse these pages for lots more information and background. Send us an email at for any questions, comments and/or to add your name to our email list.

We also appear on Twitter @SaveTCP (see rhs of this page for our Twitter feed) and on Facebook.


Get involved! All your Labour councillors are ignoring the views of the people they were elected to serve. The Council needs to be constantly challenged because it is determined to get its way and is continually putting out information that we demonstrate time and again is a combination of MISLEADING, INACCURATE, INCOMPLETE and UNTRUE.

"We turned up to swim at Temple Cowley Pools, but found out that the Labour City Council has closed it!"

Turning this


into this! 


What a brilliant demonstration of support to keep Temple Cowley Pools open! Nearly 40 people turned up at almost no notice, many dressed ready to swim, only to find that the Labour-controlled Oxford City Council had closed the centre, without any notice. Who would have thought it - what a way to treat the public you've been elected to represent. 

Here are some pictures of the event from Sunday 18th Jan, 2015 - you can see them shivering with cold - well done and thanks!

and more you can do - DONATE, WE NEED £££!

Wow - is all we can say. Overwhelmed by the numbers who gave up a Saturday evening on the 17th Jan  2015 to come along and find out how our Labour City Council chose not to discuss the community proposal, and what the Campaign and community is now doing to challenge the decision and keep health and fitness facilities in Temple Cowley. Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to attend and show your support. Brilliant. See below for more info and the presentation from the evening.


You all know that the Labour-controlled Oxford City Council, in the face of massive continuing public opposition, closed Temple Cowley Pools without any warning at 4pm on 23rd December. The Save Temple Cowley Pools Campaign and the SaveTCP community interest company have been considering the implications of the closure and what can be done to keep health and fitness facilities inside the ring road in East Oxford, where people have said they want and need them.

Everyone was invited to this Public Meeting to hear:

  • the real story behind those Council meetings in December when the Labour        councillors blatantly ignored the wishes of the electorate
  • immediate plans to challenge the council decision
  • options to keep Temple Cowley Pools for the community
  • how any planning application for the site must fail

Well, you came to the meeting, as many as the last one in November - THANK YOU! Huge interest in and commitment to keep Temple Cowley Pools part of the Temple Cowley landscape. Here are the slides from the meeting.

Thanks to everyone who sent us an endorsement for our proposal - here are just some of the hundreds we have received and passed on to the Council.

That Scrutiny Committee Meeting on 23rd December 2014

A quick update on the Scrutiny Committee meeting held on the 23rd December. Thanks to both Green councillors, Craig Simmons and Sam Hollick, and LibDem Altaf Khan for voting to refer the decision back to the City Executive Board. Also thanks to the LibDem PPC for East Oxford Mark Mann for speaking in support of the community proposal. It was sadly a predictable and foregone conclusion that, watched over by the CEB Chair and Labour Leader Bob Price, all the Labour councillors voted as one - to do nothing. So another City Executive Board was unnecessary.

The option to proceed with Catalyst Housing is a huge risk to the Council, totally ignored by the previous CEB and today's meeting:

1. The 47 dwellings being planned (a mix of houses and flats apparently, no-one's seen the plans) is twice the density permitted on the site

2. The Council's Core Strategy Policy 21 says 'Planning permission will only be granted for development resulting in the loss of existing sports…facilities…if no deficiency is created in the area” 

The SaveTCP community interest company is also disappointed at the Council's refusal to talk to us about how our proposal could work, despite the promises of Labour councillors that we would be given a fair hearing. As a result we have made a formal complaint about how our community proposal has not had the opportunity to be fairly considered.

What's different this time from the many previous council meetings? We'd like to take a small amount of credit for being one of the many organisations and campaigners throughout the UK who successfully lobbied for legislation to force councils like Oxford to allow their meetings to be filmed. So, both meetings will be on the web shortly so you can see for yourselves what actually happened. We intend providing a commentary against each to demonstrate, as we always have done since the Campaign started, that everything the Council says on this issue is a combination of Inaccurate, Incomplete, Misleading and Untrue... More to come - keep watching.

Full Unedited Video of Scrutiny here... 

City Executive Board Meeting 10th December 2014 - Our View

Firstly, we'd like to thank all the people who took the time to come to the meeting - the packed meeting room underlined the massive popular support to keep Temple Cowley Pools open.

We were naturally disappointed with the result, but not surprised given that it was this same committee that voted to close Temple Cowley Pools in the first place.

And we were surprised that the Labour councillors showed not sign of supporting a Social Enterprise that is no cost or risk to the council. It has to be of great concern to people of East Oxford that the councillors did not discuss the 'bigger' issues that the SaveTCP cic proposal represents:

  • No discussion of the effect of closing facilities like leisure centres has on an area. Independent research demonstrates clearly how not only is there an increase in obesity and related disease, but an increase in crime as well. And it is well established that if you are forced to travel more than 15 minutes to a leisure centre, you don't go as frequently or at all.

  • And no acknowledgement of the huge positive social impact that health, fitness and community facilities have on an area. We showed how, using a standard methodology accepted and endorsed by central government to measure community value, keeping Temple Cowley open would deliver over £20m of value to the community each year.

And having said they wanted to give us every chance to present the benefits of our proposal, instead of the positive discussion we expected around what the council would find acceptable in terms of a price, timing and plan, we were subjected to a series of carefully orchestrated questions around carbon emissions (where we've already demonstrated many times before how efficient Temple Cowley Pools is) and volunteer scheduling, as well as vague comments such as they expected much more detail from us. In a fifteen minute presentation - were they really serious? The conclusion can only be that they were playing lip service to their process, going through the motions to rubber stamp a decision already made. As usual with a City Executive Board, no discussion, just a decision. 

It remains unfortunate that the Council remains unwilling to discuss in any way how a community social enterprise could take over and operate a facility that the council doesn't want to run.

Thanks to the Green Party councillors who spoke on our behalf, particularly highlighting the wider issues that our proposal represents. And to Cllr Simmons, who as Chair of Scrutiny Committee has called in the decision. This means the discussion moves to the Scrutiny Committee meeting on 23rd December. Watch this space for more information...

Full Unedited Video of CEB here... 

+ + S T O P . P R E S S + +

...D E M O L I T I O N ALERT subscribe to or @SaveTCP #savetcp for latest news...
We meet every Sunday evening,     7-8 pm at the Karma Restaurant, 152 Oxford Road, just round from TCP - please come along and help open Temple Cowley Pools again!
Karma Restaurant, 152 Oxford Road, Cowley, Oxford OX4

Upcoming Events

Sunday, Aug 28 at 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Sunday, Sep 4 at 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Sunday, Sep 11 at 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Sunday, Sep 18 at 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Recent Blog Entries

We're on Twitter!

38 Degrees Online Petition - PLEASE SIGN!

We now have an online petition on the international campaigning site 38 Degrees. Go there NOW and sign to show your support - click HERE