Cally pool may be popular amongst some, but the swimming pool has probably seen better days: The changing rooms have permanent stained puddles, the facilities are beyond yesteryear, and who dares to use the toilets or send your child to them? This in the middle of Islington, a borough that is relatively affluent and usually known for high standards in many things.
Whilst many say swimming-lessons for children are excellent here, not much else will keep one’s spirits up. Even the entrance-fee is higher than in neighbouring Camden pools. Whilst the building is old, the problem appears to be managerial.
Aquaterra, Cally Pools managing company, has a policy of using staff such as life guards to clean the facility. That cleaning is not a priority job is obvious. Best example teaches that pools require dedicated permanent cleaners who clean non-stop, and who are not occupied with the thought of rather teaching or following life guard duties.
Cally pool has a high volume of users, including many school-children, who all have to change in relatively cramped changing rooms (which are getting dirty and unhygienic fast). It should be obvious that staying abreast of cleanliness continuously must be an an essential priority. But it is not.
It is interesting to note that on Aquaterra’s Islington website one reads about Cally Pool, a pool that originally opened in 1895:
“Inadequate changing facilities led to the building being completely replaced by a modern facility …. as the Cally Pool.” (emphasis added)
Well, they appear to be inadequate again. And as I found out in Archway Pool, which is also managed for Islington Council by Aquaterra, it is not much better there, due to the same policy of using life guards as cleaners. Whilst I witnessed good cleaning, when it was done, it was not carried out, nor could it be carried out continuously, due to the other duties of staff. High tide to recruit some on-site cleaners, Aquaterra.
But there is a second question here. Perhaps it is also time for councils to think of building new modern pools in this area. Kings Cross could have been and still is a potentially brilliant location for a joint venture between Camden Council and Islington Council to construct a new state of the art sport and leisure facility. The Kings Cross Railway site would have been well suited and spacey enough for even an Olympic sized pool if not several pools and other facilities. Given the many thousands of new residents it would make logistic sense.
But until such utopian hopes become established (one wonders though why it was not thought of so far), let’s admonish Aquaterra to mop those floors with Olympic rigour and several times each hour, for one thing is sure. With the newly built properties in Kings Cross quickly being populated, Cally Pool can only get busier. Whether hygiene in the facility will further drop through predictable proportionality remains to be seen.
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