Category Archives: Repairs

A few reactions to recent news…

Thanks so much for all your supportive comments in response to the reopening of the Baths being delayed once again. We thought that it was appropriate to share some of your thoughts – please do keep them coming via e-mail or using the comments section below. We know full well how passionate you all are about the building and swimming, but feel it’s important that we convey this to others as well. So, here are a selection of your comments:

  • This seems to be poor management again. Is it deliberate incompetence?  Perhaps officers should be personally liable for the results of ongoing neglect of this important building.
  • Perhaps ‘they’ should have the lost revenue from the Baths being closed stopped from their salaries
  • Sad to see the reopening date keeps going back (now April/May).  It’s as though any excuse (now flaking paint) to delay opening.
  • Councillor Kennedy asks does the pool sit as a sport or heritage site – I say it must sit as both.  Keep up the pressure on them. This building must not be allowed to close as a pool.
  • Labour Councillors want us to believe that lead paint was being used in 2004?  They must think we’re mugs!
  • Anyone fancy a sweepstake on next excuse for not opening the Moseley Rd baths. My moneys on a blown light bulb in reception.
  • Hmm, did they confirm which year? Let’s hope it’s 2012. This family needs to swim.
  • Thanks also to Moseley Shoals who sent us an e-mail outlining the impact the closure has had on their swimming club, making it nigh on impossible to swim as a club.

Of course, using this blog is nowhere near as effective as the public contacting the press and Councillors directly – follow this link for details of Councillors.  Hall Green Constituency Councillors will be voting on the options in March, so please address e-mails to them.  Cllr Tony Kennedy chairs the group and Cllr Martin Mullaney is the current Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture.

Latest update on closure of Moseley Road Baths

We have received the following update from Cllr Martin Mullaney, BCC Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture:

Update on Moseley Road Baths – 19th January 2012

The final phase of re-opening the baths began on Monday 16th January with contractors moving into the basement to begin work. They will be replacing temporary scaffolding that holds up the floor in numerous places, with permanent scaffolding. This work will take four to five weeks to complete and we are hoping that the baths should be able to re-open at the end of February.

What has confused the issue and the reason for the sudden announcement that the baths won’t re-open until April or May, is concern over flaking paint from the ceiling in Pool 2. Users of this pool prior to its closure in December 2010, will have noticed the flaking paint even then. It was particularly bad on the lower sections of the curved ceiling, on the right hand side as you entered the pool (see the photo here).

The pool was last painted in 2003 and the flaking paint was due to the very high humidity in the pool area, which was caused by the staff not turning on the mechanical ventilation fans whilst people were in the pool. The staff wouldn’t turn the fans on, because they were very noisy due to worn bearings. The bearings have now been replaced and hopefully such rapid flaking of the paint will not happen again.

Since the closure of the pool in December 2010 and the resulting dryer atmosphere, the paint flaking has accelerated to such an extent that officers in Hall Green constituency are concerned that flakes may fall into swimmers eyes. The staff in the pool have removed most of the flaking paint, but some still exists in the harder to reach parts of the ceiling.

To completely repaint the ceiling would cost £65,000 and take over six weeks to complete, thus taking the re-opening up until April or May. We have £80,000 ‘sticking plaster’ money which could fund this re-painting, however I would rather focus this money on fixing the roof of leaks – especially after all the recent lead thefts – and keep this building going until its big restoration in 2014.

Mindful that the pool has been closed for over a year and being quite familiar with the level of flaking, I have disputed the need to repaint the entire ceiling. As a result, I attended a meeting this morning with a Health and Safety officer to decide if the flaking paint was a concern. The officer said that the level of flaking is not of concern.

As a result of this, I have stressed to officers that the pool must re-open once the basement work is finished at the end of February. We will repaint the worse affected lower sections of the ceiling and this must be completed by the end of February. The rest of the £80,000 must be focused on the roof and again these roof works must not delay the
re-opening of the pool at the end of February.

Cllr. Mullaney’s website also carries a report of Tuesday’s Hall Green Constituency meeting.

And here’s a report from the Birmingham Post.

Baths reopening set for late February

‘Tis the season for good tidings, so it’s with heavy hearts that we have to share the news that Moseley Road Baths’ reopening has been put back once again until late February.  It’s now over a year since the Baths closed, supposedly for five weeks, and we’re desperate to get back in the pool!  The Hall Green Constituency has had no swimming provision at all in this period meaning that children and adults alike are missing out.  2012, the Olympic Year will see us desperately lobbying for basic provision – we hope that you can join us in that.

Here is an update from Cllr Mullaney

Update on Moseley Road baths –23rd December 2011 – Good and Bad news

There is good news and bad news with regards the re-opening of Moseley Road baths.

For some background, my last blog update was on 19th November and can be seen at http://martinmullaney.blogspot.com/2011/11/update-on-moseley-road-baths-19th.html

The bad news is that the re-opening date for the swimming baths has been pushed back by a month to the end of February 2012. This delay has been caused by the Council’s own bureaucratic procedures in releasing the money to do the next stage of work. Anyone who meets me over the Christmas period will notice various bald spots on my head, caused by me pulling my hair out over the last few weeks trying to get this money released. We are hoping to have this money signed off in the next week.

The basement is now clear of asbestos. If the report releasing the next stage of money is signed off next week, then the company installing the permanent structural scaffolding into the basement will move onto site on 16th January. Their work will take 4 to 5 weeks to complete.

The good news is that we will be having the Pool 2 ceiling repainted during this closure period. Anyone who used Pool 2 prior to its closure last December, will remember that the paint on the ceiling was badly flaking. This flaking was caused by the high humidity in the pool, which in turn was caused by the poor ventilation. When the pool is re-opened the ventilation will be significantly improved, since the mechanical issues in the ventilation fans have now been fixed. So hopefully, this flaking will not be a problem for a number of years.

By re-painting the pool now – and the money for this will hopefully be signed off next week – this will prevent the pool being closed later in the year due to the flakes falling off into the pool.

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.

——————-

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.

Baths to reopen in January?

Update from Cllr Martin Mullaney – it seems that the Baths may be due to reopen in January after all, despite a letter from Cllr Mullaney dated 18th October where the date for reopening was put at the end of February 2012!  Images of the work being done on the Baths plus notes can be viewed here, here and here.

Update on Moseley Road baths –1st November 2011

I attended a meeting this morning with the contractors who are presently working on re-opening Moseley Road baths. The good news is that we are still on target to re-open the swimming baths in mid to late January 2012.

In addition I successfully managed to persuade the Finance department to fund an addition £195,000 of work on the baths – more details on this in a bit

My last blog update was on 29th September and can be seen at http://martinmullaney.blogspot.com/2011/09/update-on-moseley-road-baths-29-th.html

The contractors moved onto site on 17th October and are on target to remove all the asbestos from the basement, from 25th November.

From 25th November, work will begin on installing the permanent structural scaffolding in the basement which will replace heavily corroded temporary scaffolding which is holding up large sections of the floor plate of the building. This work will take six weeks to complete. Taking into account the Christmas break, we anticipate work finishing mid-January and the baths re-opening.

The fire exit door from pool 2, which caused the closure of the pool last Christmas is now fully repaired.

The £195,000 additional funding for the baths, is broken down as follows:

£65,000 to install the permanent scaffolding in the basement from 25th November onwards

£50,000 to prepare a Heritage Lottery bid for just over £5million for phase one of the works to restore these baths. Our objective for phase 1 is to stabilise the condition of the building, so that it is no longer deteriating. This would include remove the dry rot from the first floor and fixing any leaks in the roof.

£80,000 for ‘sticking plaster’ works to get the swimming baths through the next two years, in preparation for any restoration monies. We are arranging a meeting with English Heritage and our Conservation Officers in two weeks time to walk around the building and roof. What we want to do is plug up any roof leaks on pool 2, remove any vegetation growing out of brick work and install temporary plastic rainwater pipes where the original cast iron ones have vanished. Plus lead has been recently stolen from the roof, which will also need replacing.

Baths reopening put back AGAIN

We have received an update on the work currently being done at Moseley Road Baths from Cllr Martin Mullaney. His letter addressed to our group puts the new date for completing work to remove asbestos in the basement, environmentally clean the area and erect new scaffolding at the end of February 2012.

Work to remove the asbestos started on 17th October – we reported that asbestos had been found on 25th August.

There is, however, some possible good news as Birmingham City Council is planning to make a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a first phase of work to improve the building. This is likely to be structural work to maintain the building.

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths and local swimmers highlighted back at the start of the summer holidays on a ‘We Want to Swim’ demo that the extended closure of the building (it originally closed for ‘5 weeks’ in December 2010 and has to date been closed over 10 months) meant that local children were missing the opportunity to go swimming, or even learn to swim in the first place.  With neighbouring Sparkhill Baths permanently closed and other pools in the South of the city either busy or too far away, it’s really crucial that the building reopens as soon as is feasible.

We urge our supporters to keep in touch with local councillors and council officers to keep the pressure on – particularly with a local by-election coming up on 10th November and important local elections next May.

Baths reopening now scheduled for mid-Jan

Here is Cllr Mullaney’s latest update on work to the Baths, dated 29th September.

I attended a meeting this afternoon with the contractors who will shortly start working on re-opening Moseley Road baths. The good news is that we are still on target to re-open the swimming baths in mid-January 2012.

My last blog update was on 25th August and can be seen at http://martinmullaney.blogspot.com/2011/08/update-on-moseley-road-baths-25th.html

The contractors will move onto site on 17th October and spend six weeks removing all asbestos from the basement. End date is 25th November.

From 25th November, work will begin on installing the permanent structural scaffolding in the basement which will replace heavily corroded temporary scaffolding which is holding up large sections of the floor plate of the building. This work will take six weeks to complete. Taking into account the Christmas break, we anticipate work finishes mid-January and the baths re-opening.

On top of this work, I have successfully bid for money from the Council’s corporate centre to do the following:

£50,000 to prepare a Heritage Lottery bid for just over £5million for phase one of the works to restore these baths.

£80,000 for ‘sticking plaster’ works to get the swimming baths through the next two years, in preparation for any restoration monies. The ‘sticking plaster’ works have still to be finalised, but we hope these will include minor roof repair works, installation of missing rainwater guttering and a boiler service.

Baths to reopen after Christmas

Update on Moseley Road baths –25th August 2011 – just in from Cllr Mullaney

The date for the re-opening of Moseley Road baths has been put back to the New Year, following the discovery of large amounts of loose asbestos in the basement area.

My last blog update was on 25th July and can be seen at http://martinmullaney.blogspot.com/2011/07/update-on-moseley-road-baths-25-th-july.html

The following is a brief update on where we are with re-opening Pool 2.

Pool 2 closed in December 2010, after it was found that the steel lintel above the fire exit in this pool was corroded so much, that it was in danger of collapsing and pulling down the wall and roof above it.
This lintel has now been replaced with a stainless steel lintel

While the new lintel was being inserted, the Council’s Health and Safety team inspected the basement and raised serious concerns about the structural integrity of a series of temporary metal props holding up the ground floor plate, which in turn were holding up the roof. The Health and Safety team insisted that these should be replaced with permanent props.

Before work could begin on installing these permanent props, the Health and Safety team designated the basement as a ‘confined working area’ and put in a wholes series of stringent working conditions, including an asbestos survey.
The asbestos survey was completed in mid-August and confirms that there are substantial amounts of loose Amosite and Chrysotile asbestos in the basement. Both types of asbestos are the most hazardous type of asbestos. Bits of gasket containing asbestos and flaks of rust covered in asbestos material have over the years laid on the floor of the basement. During that time, the basement has flooded several times, with the loose asbestos spreading throughout the basement, mixed in with other debris.

I attach a photo of a photo from the asbestos report showing gaskets and flaks of rust lying on the basement floor that contain Chrysotile asbestos.

All this asbestos needs to be removed, before the work on installing the permanent props begins.

The cost of removing the asbestos will be £80,000 and adds 10 weeks to the programme. We hope to have the money signed off next week and with the installation of the permanent prop, we expect pool 2 to be open after Christmas 2011, subject to no further problems being found.

I have enquired as to whether we need to do any more asbestos surveys in the rest of the building. I am assured that over the years all other parts of Moseley Road baths have had asbestos surveys and the basement was the only section not to have been surveyed.

I have also asked for the Asbestos survey for the basement to be checked to see if it can be made public on request. I hope to have an answer on this next week. Please let me know if you wish to be e-mailed a copy.

chrysotile-gaskets
Chrysolite Gaskets

chrysotile-rust
Chrysolite Rust

“We Want To Swim” Demo

As the six-week school summer holidays got underway a group of frustrated parents and children descended on Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath to complain about the ongoing closure of their favourite pool.

Summer holiday 'non-swim'

The Baths shut for essential repairs at Christmas for what Birmingham City Council initially claimed would be just six weeks, but more than six months later there’s still no sign of the building reopening, with the Council acknowledging that it will take another nine weeks for additional maintenance work to be carried out, leaving locals without a public pool, a situation exacerbated by the long-term closure of nearby Sparkhill Baths.

Around twenty Moseley Road Baths regulars attended Monday’s demonstration, organised by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths group. Jenny Wale, who came along with her daughters Millie (aged 9) and Sadie (11) said: “My children have nowhere to swim locally and because of the closure we have to drive several miles to our nearest pool. They’re missing out on something they love.”

Summer holiday 'non-swim'

David Pratt from Moseley Shoals swimming club was another demonstrator: “We are currently using Small Heath Leisure Centre to swim but we’d love to have our local baths back operating again.” The club have also tried using Cocks Moors Woods Leisure Centre at Alcester Lanes End but found it unsuitable for their requirements, being more of a leisure pool.

Friends’ Secretary Rachel Gillies remarked: “The school holidays have just begun, the weather’s been getting warmer and local children are desperate to come and swim at their local pool. It’s crucial that the remaining building and maintenance work starts as soon as possible so that this valuable and well-loved community facility can re-open and be enjoyed by all.”

Although work to replace the lintel above a door in the swimming pool (the initial reason for the pool’s closure) has now been completed, Birmingham City Council’s Urban Design team are insisting on the replacement of temporary scaffolding in the basement, while an asbestos survey of this area must also be carried out. Negotiations between contractors and the Council over the costs and details of this work have been ongoing for several weeks. On Monday, Councillor Martin Mullaney, Chairman of Leisure, Sport and Culture, stated that it would be late September at the earliest before Moseley Road Baths re-opened.

For more information or additional comment, please contact Jen Austin, Friends of Moseley Road Baths: 0121 440 5794/07521 734 022

Friends of Moseley Road Baths

July 25th 2011