Children were left “crying and devastated” after a campaign to save their diving centre saw a partial defeat as Barnet Council voted to push its plan ahead with only minor amendments.

The council is spending £35 million to shut down and replace Copthall leisure centre in Mill Hill with two new and improved centres, though initial plans for neither centre include diving facilities.

A petition from the Save Barnet Diving campaign group persuaded the council to put the decision to a full vote tonight (December 13).

Leader of the council Richard Cornelius added an amendment to the proposals yesterday saying the council would provide £500,000 to build a specialised diving facility with the rest of the budget to come from public contributions and the Mayor of London.

With this amendment, councillors tonight voted to approve the plans and continue forward constructing two new diving centres without adding a diving board to either.

The decision was met with boos and jeers from the packed public gallery, where campaigning parents and their children had come to see the fate of Copthall diving decided.

Wendy Kravetz, who led the campaign, spoke to the council chamber about how she believed the council’s original plans were based on “misinformation” and the diving groups were not adequately consulted.

She said: “After a hard-fought campaign, the council has made its decision which has upset a lot of children and parents who love having diving in Barnet.

“I will take a long-awaited day off tomorrow but afterwards I will be pushing to see what we can make of this result going forward.

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“This is without doubt a huge public issue that will not go away overnight.”

The next-closest diving facilities are over 20 miles away in Luton and Stratford, with campaigners saying a separate diving facility is not good enough as diving and other aquatic sport “feed off one another”.

Conservative Oakleigh councillor Sachin Rajput said the focus on a “minority sport” like diving should not distract for council funding of all physical activity for its residents.

Other Tory councillors called for a cross-party consensus on this issue, requesting Labour councillors put pressure on London Assembly member Andrew Dismore and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to get funding for the separate facility.

Cllr Alison Cornelius asked Ms Kravetz is she would chair a committee to oversee the future of a potential centre, to which Ms Kravetz said she might consider it in the future.

At the end of discussions Cllr Richard Cornelius said: “I want to congratulate the campaigners on their serious efforts – we had no idea there was this level of public interest until this petition appeared.

“However, all of our ducks are now in a row for the leisure centres and we cannot reorder them or we would be threatening the hopes of swimmers in North London.

“Saving diving in Barnet is clearly important to people so I hope we can come together to make the best of a separate centre.”

The vote was cast in favour of giving £500,000 and nominating council land for a new diving centre 32 to 29 while a second amendment to completely reconsider the plans from Labour councillor Alison Moore was rejected by the same margin.

Both decisions were met with raucous shouts, hisses and groans from the public gallery as campaigners and other members of the public left the council chamber.