Three things you can do

Only 18 months left to save our pool!

Get on board with the Friends of Moseley Road Baths!

We’re now at an absolutely vital stage in our campaign to keep swimming at Moseley Road Baths, with only 18 months until the pool is earmarked to close.

However, we have been here in the past, and over many years the community has rallied to save this vital community facility from closure.  Our Council knows how unpopular they will be if they are seen to be the ones bolting the doors.

We have less than a year and a half to get them to reverse their decision and ensure that this beautiful and nationally important building at the heart of our community is not allowed to fall derelict, but to remain as a sign of how our neighbourhood values its heritage and health.

Here are three things that you can do – find out more below:

  1. Come along to our Annual General Meeting
  2. See how you can help with our campaigning
  3. Give us your views on the future of the building

1. Get involved and join us at our AGM

We’re really excited to be holding this year’s AGM at the lovely ORT Café, opposite the pool.  This coincides with a photo exhibition of the Baths in the café by local photographer and regular swimmer Vivienne Harrison.

The details are:

Thursday 10th April
Ort Café, Moseley Road (opposite Moseley Road Baths)
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Refreshments available from the usual ORT menu

We are taking nominations for the ‘Officer’ roles of Chair, Secretary and Treasurer, so please send your nominations in advance to contact@friendsofmrb.co.uk.

2. We want your skills!

The AGM will take the form of a very hands on working group.  We are inviting all attendees to sign up to a ‘subgroup’, so that each and every person can be part of a team of people helping to drive the campaign forward and shift the widespread opposition to the Council’s plans into an increasingly vocal and effective campaign.

We know that there are a wide array of skills and contacts amongst our hundreds of supporters, so please do think about how you would like to contribute.

Our suggested ‘subgroups’ are:

  • Media – covering both press liaison and social media, including writing for our blog and newsletter and updating Facebook and Twitter.  Producing campaign literature.  Building a stock of photo for use in the campaign.
  • Lobbying and Liaison – Attending meetings with Councillors and Council Officers, attending District and Ward Committee meetings, liaising with other swimming and campaign groups, building links with local schools and community groups…
  • Events – Assisting with organising meetings, street stalls, leafleting, demonstrations, fundraisers, tours of the building.
  • Admin – Assisting with the day to day running of the group, supporting the Secretary in answering e-mails, getting notice out about meetings.

These are our suggestions, but we welcome other ideas!  Even if you are unable to attend the AGM then do please let us know via e-mail if you would like to contribute!

3. We want your views!

We are currently finalising the details of a meeting with local Councillors, Council Officers and interested parties to discuss options for the future of the building, and we are hoping that this will take place shortly before our AGM.  We want to ensure that we represent the views of supporters at this important time.  There are so many ideas for uses for the building and so many different models of ownership and management that we know our supporters have strong views on.

We have designed a short survey which should take no more than two minutes to complete.  Please, please, do share your views on the two questions around future uses for the building and future ownership and management of the building.

Go to the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9XWDQT2

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

£36m for new Leisure Centres, but nothing for Moseley Road Baths?

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths asked a question to Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, Ian Ward at a full Council meeting.  Here is the question with the full written response we received.

Given that monies for the announced £36 million for swimming pools/leisure centres will be coming from prudential borrowing, how much will the council be paying back each year and over what period of time, and why can’t the council prudentially borrow £1m per year for 3 years to match fund a bid to Heritage Lottery to save Moseley Road Baths?

Councillor Ian Ward in reply.

The total investment in the leisure transformation is £36m. However £6m for a new Sparkhill pool is already in the long term financial plan, and there is a minimum of a further £6m from 106 funding and Sport England grants. Therefore the balance within the leisure strategy is £24m funded by prudential borrowing from within the leisure budget, of £1.8m per year. This is only funding for leisure sites, as the future operating model is that that the new and remaining sites, will be run by leisure contractors at no subsidy ( or with a potential return) to the council.

The Council would need to provide £3m of prudential borrowing to match the Heritage Lottery grant of £5m as the project cost is estimated at £8m. Even so, this project only covers the short term work needed to repair the fabric and keeps the smaller pool available. To fully restore all facilities for a long term future would cost a further £20m.

The Leisure transformation plan prioritised the very limited funding available for sports and leisure facilities and this did not extend to Moseley Road baths. The Council’s financial plans therefore include no resources to fund the interest and repayment costs of any prudential borrowing for the Baths.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

March is the month for women

We’re a little late for International Women’s Day, but to mark the day we’re concentrating this month’s campaign on the ever popular ‘Women Only’ swim sessions.

Women-only Swimming Sessions

In recent years there has been a substantial increase in demand for women-only swimming sessions, especially in inner-city areas of Birmingham such as Balsall Heath. With this demand expected to continue rising, it is essential that Birmingham City Council provides appropriate facilities.

For cultural or religious reasons, a high proportion of women in the Balsall Heath area choose not to swim with men or with male lifeguards present. Some use swimming as an opportunity to socialise with other women, some feel more comfortable and less self-conscious swimming when men are not present. For others, women-only sessions provide the only opportunity for them to swim with their young children.

Moseley Road’s pool has an excellent layout for women-only swimming due to the fact that it is not open to public gaze once the pool doors are closed. The high windows offer privacy whilst the poolside dressing cubicles are ideal for the self-conscious, in contrast to new-build pools with open plan changing areas.

It can be argued that if large numbers of women cannot, or choose not, to swim in the presence of men then the closure of suitable facilities such as Moseley Road Baths will effectively exclude them from swimming. It is crucial that public services meet the needs of the community, especially when these needs have been clearly stated by the heavy demand for women-only provision.

Far from removing the women-only sessions at Moseley Road Baths, additional slots would be welcomed both by individual women and women’s groups. Many such organisations have identified healthy living as a priority, finding that swimming not only promotes exercise but is also an effective and enjoyable way for women to socialise, gain confidence and form networks that help in other areas of their lives. Women who take regular exercise are also more likely to encourage family members to follow suit.

Investing time and money in provision for women-only sessions has reaped substantial rewards. Crucially, it has proven to be a huge investment in the health and welfare of a substantial proportion of the community around Moseley Road Baths.

Given the income levels and lack of access to individual transport that exists amongst many of the community of women-only swimmers who currently use Moseley Road Baths, should the threatened closure of the building proceed it is highly unlikely that such women will readily transfer to Sparkhill Pool or find space at Small Heath Pool, where the timetable for women-only sessions is already full.

Maria’s experience

We received this e-mail from Maria explaining why swimming at Moseley Road Baths is so valuable for her:

I can speak for myself and many women who attend the women and children sessions, the pool gives local people a fantastic opportunity to keep fit. This is either free for children and a low fee for adults, which can benefit low income families as paying for it may be a barrier that could prevent them gaining a life skill. Many women i know go and are able to keep fit in a male free environment, which for many women for religious reasons is a huge factor in whether they attend or not. Without it they would probably find it really difficult to access a cheap alternative in a pleasant environment.

Also in school holidays the pool is well utillised by local children who under current proposals are very unlikely to go to the pool at Stratford Road. This in turn could lead to children potentially getting into mischief due to lack of activities in the area.
I think it would be a really bad idea to close the pool and ultimately would have an affect on the local community.

Swimming is a pleasure but also a valuable life skill and could save your life or others.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Talks on the History of the Baths

Long standing member of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths, and the author of ‘Pool of Memories – A History of Moseley Road Baths’ will be delivering a series of illustrated talks on the history of the building over the coming months.

All talks are illustrated with digital slides and last approximately one hour. There is usually a small admission fee (£2-£3) for non-members of the host organisation.

Copies of our book, Pool of Memories – A History of Moseley Road Baths will be on sale at these talks, priced at £12.

The Harborne Society, St. Mary’s Parish Centre, St. Mary’s Church, Vivian Road, Harborne, Wednesday, March 5th 2014 19:30

Midland Veteran Cycling Club, The Rope Walk, St. Paul’s Square, Hockley, Wednesday, April 16th 2014 20:00

Kingswinford U3A, Kingswinford Community Centre, High Street, Kingswinford, Wednesday, April 23rd 2014 14:00

Ward End and Hodge Hill Local History Society, Ward End Fire Station, Ward End, Monday July 14th 2014 19:00

Shirley U3A Group, Shirley Methodist Church, Stratford Road, Shirley, Solihull, Thursday July 17th 2014 14:00

Birmingham and Midland Institute, Monday Lecture Series, Margaret Street, Monday July 21st 2014 13:00

Yardley Local History Society, South Yardley Library, Yardley Road, Yardley, Monday September 8th 2014 14:00 General Swimming Pools Talk

British Gas Retired Employees, St. Helen’s Church, St. Helens Road, Olton, Solihull, Thursday, September 18th 2014 14:30

Family Group, Hodge Hill United Reform Church, Coleshill Road, Hodge Hill, Monday September 29th 2014 19:30

Wythall History Society, Wythall Baptist Church Hall, Chapel Drive, Wythall, Friday, October 31st 2014 19:30

Tanworth-in-Arden Ladies Luncheon Club, Old Silhillians Association Clubhouse, Warwick Road, Copt Heath, Solihull, Monday, November 10th 2014 12:30 Luncheon Club Members Only

Erdington Historical Society, St. Barnabas Church, High Street, Erdington. Monday, January 12th 2015 19:30

Smethwick Local History Society, Baptist Church, Rawlings Road, Smethwick, Wednesday February 11th 2015 14:00 General Swimming Pools Talk

King’s Norton Local History Society, North Hall, The Saracen’s Head, The Green, King’s Norton, Monday February 23rd 2015 19:30

North Arden Local History Society, Spencer Lounge, Arden Hall, Water Orton Road, Castle Bromwich, Thursday May 8th 2015 20:00

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Change of time and venue for Thursday’s meeting

This week’s meeting time and venue has changed

We will now be meeting at 7pm on Thursday 13th February at the Tea Room in the Baths (to the left of Reception).

On the agenda is:

  • An update on ‘Asset Transfer’ discussions
  • Planning for our AGM in April
  • ‘Campaign packs’ for supporters
  • Planning next month’s themed campaign – ‘Women Only’ swimming
  • The newly formed ‘Historic Pools Network’
  • An update on Attilio Fiumarella’s photography project

We hope to see you there!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Eight year old Dylan making a splash with the Council

Eight year old Dylan Morris-Adams loves his weekly lessons so much that he took it upon himself to write a letter to the Council asking them to reconsider their decision to close Moseley Road Baths.

Dylan

Dylan has been swimming at Moseley Road Baths since he was a baby.  He writes:

‘My little brother is 3 and he already has his 25 metre badge.  I have every badge up to my 2000 metre badge and we both wouldn’t be such good swimmers if it wasn’t for Moseley Baths’

Dylan shared some photos from his baby photo album with us – and it was clear from talking with him and his Mum that the building occupies a very special place in their family’s life.

Dylan’s Swimming photos from Rachel Gillies on Vimeo.

We spoke with Dylan to find out more about his swimming achievements and his attachment to the Baths.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with such distances, 2,000 metres is the equivalent of 80 miles of a 25 metre pool!

Dylan – Strokes lessons from Rachel Gillies on Vimeo.

The popular ‘Strokes’ swimming programme is now being phased out and is being replaced with the ASA ‘Learn to Swim Pathway’.  With schools increasingly under time and budgetary constraints, so many children are reliant on out of school swimming lessons to learn to swim.  Whilst Sparkhill Baths is being offered as an alternative facility from 2015, many families would simply struggle to get over there after school.

The task is now to give young people like Dylan every opportunity to fulfil their swimming ambitions – and in Dylan’s case he wants to head to Olympic glory.  From what we’ve seen he may just manage it…

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Photo models needed!

Photographer Attilio Fiumarella is seeking help to develop a photographic project with swimmers as part of the local ‘Some Cities’ photography project. His project will represent the swimming pool’s users in an atmosphere inspired by the butterfly and its cocoon. People will be photographed inside the Moseley Road Baths’ building, surrounded by a fascinating light and involved in selected materials, similar to a cocoon.

Attilio explains: ‘The cocoon provides the butterfly with enough energy for a new life. In the same way, in this imaginary world we will create together, the users will absorb the swimming pool’s essence, keeping the heritage alive.’

The image of the disused Gala Pool is just one shot from his recent tour of the building – so this promises to be something very special!

To learn more about the project and / or to volunteer yourself as one of his models (people of all backgrounds, abilities, shapes and sizes are welcome!), come along to a short talk on the project at:

The Tea Room (by Reception), Friday 7th February, 6:30pm.

Please e-mail contact@friendsofmrb.co.uk to confirm your attendance.

More of Attilio’s beautiful work can be seen at www.attiliofiumarella.com

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Be Active swim times

‘Be Active’ is a scheme where all Birmingham residents can access sports and leisure facilities for free at certain times of day.  You will need to take proof of your address (bill, bank statement or similar) to the pool to get a Leisure Card.  You can then use this card to access your free session every time you go to the centre.  There are sessions at all Council run sports and leisure centres, so do check each centre for details.  The details for free swim sessions at Moseley Road Baths are:

New ‘Be Active’ swim times

Public swim
Monday – 9-11am
Tuesday – 9-11am, 2-4pm
Wednesday – 9-11am, 1:45-3pm
Thursday – 9-11am, 3:45-4:45pm, 5pm-6pm
Saturday – 1-2pm, 2-3pm
Sunday – 8-9am

Disability Swim session
Wednesday 11:30am-12:30pm

Adult Lane Swim
Friday – 7:30-8:30pm
Sunday – 7-8am

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Wednesday meeting – change of venue

Our next meeting this coming Wednesday (15th January) will now be taking place at the Tea Room at Moseley Road Baths from 7:30pm.  If you require help with access then do please contact us in advance and we can make arrangements.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Council announce closure of nine pools

This week we hit our 7th Anniversary as a campaign group.  This comes the same week that the Council have announced their intention to close nine pools across the city.  The fact that we’ve been the first port of call for the media, Twitter has been pinging away constantly and we have received so many supportive messages is testament to how far we have come in that time.

Details of the closures

Leisure Centres lined up for the axe are Newtown Pool, Colmers Leisure Centre, Court Road, Erdington Leisure Centre, Moseley Road Swimming Pool, Northfield Pool, Shard End leisure centre, Stechford Cascades and Tiverton Pool in Selly Oak.

Six new pools and leisure centres are due to be built with £36 million of public funds.  These will be at Sparkhill, Erdington, Ickneild Port Loop, Northfield, Shard End and Stechford Cascades.

Existing facilities at Wyndley in Sutton Coldfield, Beeches in Great Barr, Fox Hollies in Yardley, and Cocks Moors Woods in Kings Heath will be farmed out to private operators to run under council controls.

This hotchpotch of private and public funding and ownership raises real concerns about accountability, access and most worryingly private companies creaming off profits at the expense of staff and swimmers.

Emergency meeting

We are bringing December’s meeting forward to:

Thursday 5th December
7:30pm
Anderton Park School
Children’s Centre, Dennis Road, Balsall Heath

The venue is wheelchair accessible and on-street parking is available.  Access from Anderton Park Road end only

Who should run the building?

Last month we wrote about the possibility of the group entering preliminary discussions with the Council about other models of ownership and management of the building.  It is clear that the building has massive untapped potential and that creative thinking is needed to bring currently unused areas of the building into use, and to create new ways of generating income for running and maintenance.

At this month’s meeting we decided to go ahead with talks, although we are still very sceptical about the prospect of any transfer allowing for swimming to be retained in the building.  Talks are due to begin early next year, and we would welcome your thoughts on this.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off