After the London Fields party, that sinking feeling

LidolightsC: London Fields Lido floodlights switch-on 111214 ©

IT ALL WENT so well, the official floodlights switch-on at London Fields Lido. You could even be forgiven for saying it went swimmingly.

A bigwig had turned up from GLL, the company that runs the lido for Hackney council, and a Paralympics swimmer had made grateful noises about how night-time swimming sessions would be a boon for  disabled people and, well, everyone.

A councillor, Jonathan McShane, roped in to address the guests as they necked mulled wine and munched mince pies, felt so comfortable that he ventured even a kind of apology, saying that the London Field Users Group had been right to argue against him for night sessions.

A councillor publicly confessing: now that’s something to remember.

The mood was that good. It wasn’t just the DJs tinkering away in a corner, the

Paralympics swimmer Dervis Konuralp, left, Hackney Cllr Jonathan McShane and GLL executive Peter Bundy @ London Fields Lido floodlight switch-on 11121 ©
And, lo, there was light: paralympics swimmer Dervis Konuralp, left, Hackney councillor Jonathan McShane and GLL executive Peter Bundy at the lido floodlights switch-on

food was good, even the lighting was good: in the council’s words, “carefully selected in order to minimise potential light pollution for residents and wildlife”.

Wildlife? Surely the London Fields Boys gang was smashed by the police several years ago?

As soon as the floodlights, installed by Etec, a 2005-established firm, were switched on, to McShane’s countdown, a splash of swimmers, enticed by the offer of a free session, appeared and exuberantly dived in, filling the pool with frenetic freestyle, graceful breaststroke and a few styles not in any known list.

Children from the nearby Gayhurst school shivered excitedly on the sidelines before leaping in for an evening outdoors lesson.

What if a lot of money had been spent on a party in a time of austerity, the evening had been a success.

But hours after the fun evening, as a sunny but chilly day dawned, it became

London Fields Lido floodlights switch-on 111214 ©
Evening outdoors lesson: schoolchildren enjoy instruction from a Lido swimming teacher

evident that the problem that had troubled the pool for months, the heating, the main draw of the lido, had re-emerged.

Despite the gloss of the floodlights party, the problem had not gone away: either the water temperature fell below the intended 25 degrees Celsius or the showers were dangerously hot. Or unpleasantly tepid.

This morning, however, the water was at 20.6, in Fahrenheit a full 10 degrees below the intended level and so cold that those willing to brave the water were let in without charge.

The council fessed up to this, too (perhaps it’s seasonal), saying: “Unfortunately, over the last two days, we’ve been experiencing problems maintaining the water temperature at London Fields Lido at the normal 25°c.

“The problem has been exacerbated by high winds, which has meant we’ve been unable to deploy the pool cover over the last two nights.”

What do the public think about the failure to solve a long-standing problem before extending the hours with expensive floodlighting, not to mention a costly launch?

A group of lido users from Hackney Green Party (I happened to be speaking to them at the time) came up with this: “Ensuring the heating works when it should at London Fields Lido would be a worthwhile investment, and we hope that Hackney council always considers the environmental impact of its services.

“Many pool users are happy about the extended opening hours, so we support the opportunity for swimmers to use the lido later into the evening.”

David Altheer 111214

* Update: water temperature this morning Mon 15 Dec 2014 was 19C.

* Lido, London Fields West Side E8 3EU (020 7254 9038), 6.30am-9pm year-round.  

* Backstory: Hackney lido lights up and Wetsuits in the lido: it’s that cold 

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

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