Metal thieves stealing far more than lead

We’ve received this update from Cllr Mullaney about work to Moseley Road Baths.  It seems that despite the work to get the building back up and running that determined thieves have been working equally hard to steal lead and copper from the roof.  This is not only a case of stealing a bit of metal, it’s stealing our heritage and could potentially rob the entire community of the facility.  Please do look at the photos we’ve linked to, it’s truly galling.

Needless to say, if you hear or see anything then please shout up… anyhow, onto the update, copied from Cllr Mullaney’s blog.

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There is good news and bad news with regards the re-opening of Moseley Road baths in mid to late January 2012.

For some background, my last blog update was on 1st November and can be seen at http://martinmullaney.blogspot.com/2011/11/update-on-moseley-road-baths-1-st.html

The good news is that we are still on target to re-open the swimming baths in mid to late January 2012. The company removing the asbestos in the basement, finished on Friday 18th November. There will now be two days of inspection and air testing for asbestos and if this is successful, work will begin on installing the permanent scaffolding in the basement – this will take 6 weeks to complete.

The bad news is that the roof of the baths is being visited by metal thieves on a nightly basis. I attach photos (links here, here, here and here) showing the damage they are causing, but as you can see they are doing the following:
a)    Stealing the lead flashing, which in turn will introduce large leaks into the roof infrastructure, causing more rot
b)    Displacing roof slates or putting their foot through roof sections, as they remove the lead flashing, which in turn is creating more roof leaks.
c)    Trying to remove the cooper lightning conductor at the base of the boiler house chimney. If they succeed is doing this, this could be catastrophic, since the chimney would explode if hit by a lighting bolt.

Stopping the metal thieves is proving difficult, since they come with ladders and are prepared to clamber over the roofs, putting their own lives at risk, to get to the metal they want.

We have met with English Heritage who have given us permission to replace all lead flashing with a substitute material called ‘turncoat’ stainless steel. This material looks like lead after weathering, but has the advantage of being very difficult to remove. Lead is soft and rips – perfect for the metal thief. Stainless steel is stiff, can be nailed in place and has to cut by hacksaw.

With the £80,000 for ‘sticking plaster’ works we has successful received from corporate finance, we will be replacing all lead flashing.

With regards the Heritage Lottery bid, we are aiming to put the bid in, in April 2012. However, I’m in discussions with Corporate Finance to understand what level of match funding the Council are willing to offer – this is a pre-requirement for any HLF submission.

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