Council announce intention to close Baths for swimming

14th January 2013

On Wednesday 9th January, three local Labour councillors, Lisa Trickett, Victoria Quinn and Tony Kennedy, and the Deputy Leader of the Council Ian Ward, met with the Friends of Moseley Road Baths and announced that they saw no long term future for swimming at Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath.

Friends of Moseley Road Baths represent pool users and those who care about the building and the future of swimming in the city and have campaigned hard over many years for the future of this well used Grade II* listed Edwardian swimming pool in inner city Birmingham, described as a “gem” by English Heritage.

Recently the council’s passed up the opportunity to attract several million pounds of Heritage Lottery funding to restore the building, on the basis that the council has no money to match fund. Instead they say they are committed merely to preserve the fabric of the building.  The Friends of Moseley Road Baths believe that swimming is a vital part of its future as a heritage building.

The Group’s Secretary, Rachel Gillies, said, ‘If these councillors were to walk into this facility in their own ward then they would see how busy the building is.  The fact that they would even contemplate closing it for swimming when there is such a high demand shows how out of touch they are with the electorate and how ignorant they are of the need for a facility where people of all ages can come and get fit.’

Closing the facility for swimming would leave local schools without a place to swim, meaning that a majority of local pupils would not meet the national standard for swimming proficiency.

There is a proposed new pool in Sparkhill.  Work however has yet to start. Even with that pool up and running, local schools and residents will not have enough swimming time (especially for women-only swimming which is in high demand).

The Friends are also committed to continued public ownership of buildings such as Moseley Road Baths. These are an asset to the City and belong to all of us.  Jen Austin from the group questioned the consequences of moving the building to a Trust: “At the moment we are able to have a dialogue with elected councillors and present our views. How would this democratic right and accountability be preserved if our pool is run by an independent trust?  “The Friends of Moseley Road Baths urge the council as our elected representatives to listen to the wishes of their constituents. We believe the community want to keep this building not just for its heritage but also as a swimming and sport facility.”

We challenge their decision and will be deciding our strategy this week at an open committee meeting in Balsall Heath.

9 thoughts on “Council announce intention to close Baths for swimming

  1. The pool must be kept open for swimming. It is the oldest working Edwardian baths in the country and this is what makes it truly unique. Perhaps the building could be partly used as a working museum. School children could learn about the Edwardians while swimming in old stile swimming cloths. It could be incorporated with other historic buildings in the area such as Uffculme and Highbury Hall.

    Birmingham has a great history which local polititions need to appreciate more.

  2. keep the baths open – for community, schools, activity and possible future para/olympic stars!

  3. They have money to build a new pool but not to match funding for the old one? For goodness sake!

  4. The Labour group again knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing…well suggesting they know the price of everything is perhaps pushing it!

  5. It would tear out the heart of Balsall Heath to do away with our living pool so much enjoyed by all.

  6. The Council barely have enough money to maintain statutory services. It is naive to imagine that they could take any other decision about Moseley Baths. The best option would be some arrangement to hand the building and the baths over to a community group who could then try their luck in raising the funds necessary to restore and maintain it.

  7. This is outrageous.

    I’d say we change the financials if they are willing to be transparent about it, something just doesn’t add up.

    This is the only swimming pool that I truly love.

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