Tag Archives: Heritage Lottery Fund

The case for investing in swimming

We’ve been so heartened by the response that we have received so far from people furious at the news that the Council wants to close Moseley Road Baths for swimming from 2015.  This is particularly frustrating, as they were so close to submitting what looking like being a successful bid, which would have secured the building for another 25 years and made it a viable Heritage and swimming facility.

Pupils banner

Councillors are making the case that they have no money, and have had the gall to cite the equal pay case as the reason for being unable to find the £3million to match fund the bid.  In reality, £3million, to be spent in two years time, over the course of two years, to secure a building for 25 years and to attract £5million to a ‘deprived neighbourhood’ sounds like good financial sense to me (especially when compared to £12million for Harborne Pool and millions spent on the new library).  The alternative is to do unplanned ’emergency repairs’ that can escalate dramatically and eat into other budgets.

Or, the Council could allow this building, situated in the heart of Balsall Heath, to fall into disrepair, and for the area to see its high street become increasingly run down.  A glance over at Stirchley Baths gives an idea of what we could expect.  There is so much hand-wringing over ‘regeneration’ and ‘civic pride’ – the answer is literally on our doorstep.

But surely this is ‘austerity Britain’, and we all have to tighten our belts?  Speaking with one regular swimmer yesterday who relies on swimming for her health, and who is currently battling to retain disability benefits, closing the only local pool to her would lead to a further deterioration of her health.  As cuts bite elsewhere swimming is a cheap, accessible way to improve physical and mental health, prevent isolation, and build the kind of cohesive, supportive community that politicians dream of.

Let’s also not forget that many school pupils in the area are failing to meet the standard for being able to swim a length by the time they finish primary school.  When both pools were open at Moseley Road Baths there was a full programme of school swimming.  Now kids just get a taster, maybe a term a year.  Nothing consistent, not enough to gain the confidence to learn this crucial life skill.  This isn’t about chasing the Olympic dream.  It’s about meeting the national requirements.

Reopen Moseley Road Baths!

Last Autumn when the Heritage Lottery Fund bid was being submitted, I was part of the consultation exercise conducted by Birmingham Conservation Trust.  They were quite overwhelmed by the responses they received.  School teachers were discussing how the building could be used for Science lessons, dancers wanted to use the Gala Pool for performances, students came and practiced their photography there.  I’ve lost count of the number of people who have been in touch wanting to use the building for filming.  And everyone is eager to see some kind of permanent history exhibition there that teaches kids and adults alike about this marvellous building’s history.

So this COULD be viable.  It COULD be something people would travel to visit.  It COULD be a real source of pride for Balsall Heath and Birmingham.  Unfortunately our local councillors just continue to bring shame to our area, with no vision, no commitment to the neighbourhood and no idea of the needs of local residents.  If today’s reaction to the news is anything to go by, they have a shock in store….

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.

PRESS RELEASE: Friends vow to reverse Council decision on Lottery bid

PRESS RELEASE

Friends vow to reverse Council decision on Lottery bid

17th December 2012

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths are dismayed to learn of Birmingham City Council’s decision not to submit a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for work to the Baths building, which would secure its long term future.

The group have been inundated by comments from supporters since the news broke last week. Chair of the group, James Gillies said,

‘There really is a strength of feeling amongst the public that this is a golden opportunity to use the building to its full potential and to regenerate the area. Those who contributed to the bid feel massively betrayed and have vowed to push for it to be submitted in the next round.’

The bid required Birmingham City Council to commit £3million so as to receive £5million from the HLF for the renovation work, which would total £8 million and would be due to begin in 2014. However, the current freeze on Council capital expenditure whilst a review is underway means that the Council has missed the 14th December deadline for submitting the bid. Rachel Gillies, Secretary of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths said,

‘The Council is faced with a choice to either allocate £3 million for works starting in 2014 and to receive the £5 million additional investment from the HLF. Or, they can continue to neglect the building and spend vast sums of money on emergency repairs. Their short-termism is costly to local tax payers and a disaster for this nationally important building.’

The bid included:

• Work to the exterior of the building to make it watertight for another 25 years
• New machinery for the running of the pool
• Boarding over Pool 1 (the Gala Pool) for community use until money could be found (in a Phase 2 HLF bid) for the reopening of that pool for swimming use
• Increasing access to the building for educational, arts and historical projects

The bid is the culmination of months of work by contractors and council officers. Birmingham Conservation Trust has undertaken an extensive consultation exercise, which hundreds of people responded to, including schools, arts organisations, local colleges and regular swimmers.

Suzanne Carter from Birmingham Conservation Trust who led the recent consultation for the HLF bid said,

‘It’s very disappointing news that the bid is not being submitted just yet. There is such a lot of support for the restoration of the Baths from swimmers and the local community. It is clear from our consultation that the Baths is a much loved local historic landmark. It is so important that the money is found so this amazing building is no longer at risk’.

The Friends group is now looking to meet with members of the Cabinet and council officers to urge them to make every effort to commit the money required and to submit the bid in the next round of applications in June 2013.

Note to Editors

Moseley Road Baths is a Grade II* listed building and as such the Council has a statutory obligation to maintain the building.

The building has two pools, one is currently in use and is open for public, lane, school and group swimming, as well as swimming tuition. The ‘Gala Pool’ has been closed since 2003.

An on-line virtual tour of Moseley Road Baths can be viewed at www.moseleyroadbaths.co.uk and the Friends of Moseley Road Baths have an active blog at www.friendsofmrb.co.uk and can be found at www.twitter.com/moseleyrdbaths

Council fail to submit HLF bid

We learnt earlier this week that the Council’s bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for Phase 1 of restoration work to the building will not be put forward as they have decided that they will not be able to put £3million match-funding towards the £8million bid.  The full text of their letter to us is below.  We will be issuing a press release shortly.

Thank you to everyone who has been in touch with your comments.  We know that there has been a huge amount of support for this bid and hundreds of people have been involved in the consultation exercise.  We will be working hard to make sure that your views are heard.

Letter from Council re. HLF bid - 11/12/12

Astounding response to Heritage Consultation!

We have seen an overwhelmingly positive response to the consultation work that Birmingham Conservation Trust have been doing as part of the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for restoration and heritage projects at Moseley Road Baths.  There is a great write up on their blog.

Baths Questionnaire

Lots of you have been completing questionnaires on your ideas for the building (these can be found at the Baths and many local community venues), there was lots of interest at the Eid Mela a few weeks back, 133 people took a ‘Behind the Scenes’ tour last weekend, every single department at Joseph Chamberlain College has expressed an interest in using the Baths with students, plus this week we are meeting with local schools to discuss their vision for activities at the Baths. Phew!

I was lucky enough to meet with Suzanne Carter, part of the team from Birmingham Conservation Trust conducting the consultation, and representatives from local arts organisations. We took a tour around the building, delving into nooks and crannies. It’s so inspiring and affirming to see people getting visibly excited by the possibilities in the space.

We spoke about how the individual cubicles for the slipper baths could be used creatively, how the archive from the Pool of Memories could be used as inspiration, and we got very excited talking about how everything from the smallest detail of the tiles and marble to the huge expanse of the Gala Pool could be employed for photography, film, projection, dance and drama.

It’s clear to me that we have a really wonderful opportunity to combine the heritage and beauty of this inspiring building with the creativity and talents of local people.  Let’s push to make sure that we can make these things happen!

‘Behind the Scenes’ at Moseley Road Baths!

This Sunday, 2-6pm there is a rare opportunity to delve behind the scenes of the Grade II* listed building to see how the pool is run and to see bits of the building not open to the public. This is as part of a consultation exercise looking into ideas for a restoration bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. No need to book – just turn up!

MRB-event-16-September

Important survey on Heritage projects at MRB

The full restoration of Moseley Road Baths will cost millions, which the Council does not have. A phased approach has been recommended and the first phase involves bidding for Heritage Lottery funding. The proposed scheme will tackle the external repairs of the building, structural problems and will keep pool 2 open for swimming.

Birmingham Conservation Trust have been commissioned by Birmingham City Council to find out what Heritage activities the local community would like to see taking place in the building during this first phase of restoration (up to 2018).

To help swimmers and residents make their decisions on the building, there will be an event at the Baths on 16th September, 2-6pm, which includes tours, displays, family activities and of course opportunity to complete the survey.  You can also get copies of the survey at community venues around the area, including Balsall Heath Library.  If you complete the survey you will be added into a draw to win a £25 voucher for Marks and Spencer or HMV.

MRB-event-16-September

Notice of AGM

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths have their Annual General Meeting on Thursday 12th April at 7:30pm at Anderton Park Children’s Centre on Dennis Road, Balsall Heath.

With the Baths currently closed, local elections looming, a large Heritage Lottery Bid on the horizon and exciting things happening with our Pool of Memories Project, we want to make sure that we are prepared for the next stage of our campaign. Please join us to celebrate what we’ve achieved in the past year and help us plan for the next.

E-mail contact@friendsofmrb.co.uk if you wish to make nominations for the positions of Chair, Secretary or Treasurer.

£3million match-funding approved for HLF bid

Cllr Mullaney has sent us this update on progress with the HLF bid.  Let’s push to make sure that this £3m of match funding doesn’t suddenly disappear when needed…

£3million now set aside by the Council for Moseley Road baths

At todays Cabinet meeting it was agreed to set aside £3million in the future capital fund, to be used as match funding in a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)  bid for phase 1 of the restoration of Moseley Road baths.

This is a significant development, since the success or failure of a HLF bid will turn on the level of match funding provided by the Council…..and this level of match funding will be looked on favourably by the HLF.

This decision, now gives us the go ahead to start preparing our HLF bid, which will most likely be submitted in June.

The total cost of phase 1 of the restoration works is £8million. With the £3million agreed by Cabinet today, this means we would apply for £4.99million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. With the bid under £5million, it will be considered by the Regional HLF Board. We have a far greater chance of a successful bid at regional level. If the bid was for £5million or more, than it would be considered at the national HLF board, where you are up against the Buckingham Palaces and Stonehenges of the World..

Any successful HLF has to go through two stages in the HLF process. If our bid was successful, then the earliest the HLF monies would be available is 2014.

The phase 1 restoration of Moseley Road baths will require the building to be closed to the public for two years and would do the following:
Permanent repairs to the exterior fabric of the building with a life of 25 years – so basically a complete re-roofing to stop any water ingress
Complete re-wiring and new machinery (eg new boilers) for the pool. We would be particular keen to install a combined heat and power system in the boiler house. This would heat all the buildings along Moseley Road and help to regenerate this corridor.
Pool 2 maintained as a community swimming pool
Pool 1 boarded over and used for community use.

Phase 2 of the restoration would involve getting pool 1 back in use as a swimming pool. Estimated cost of doing this is £9million.

The timing of 2014 as the earliest date for the start of phase 1 of the restoration fits in perfectly with the re-opening of Sparkhill pool in 2014. Once this re-opens, this will allow us to close Moseley Road baths for 2 years for this phase 1 restoration

Heritage Lottery Fund Bid details from Cllr Mullaney

As promised, here is Cllr Mullaney’s update on the Council’s bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.  As always we would welcome your thoughts on this.

…I’m hoping to have the report signed off to release the money to fund a heritage specialist to pull together the Heritage Lottery Bid for phase one of the works to restore the baths.

The total cost of phase 1 of the restoration works is £8million. Finance have agreed to set aside £3million in future capital budgets as the Council’s contribution to this restoration. This means we would apply for £4.99million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. With the bid under £5million, it will be considered by the Regional HLF Board. We have a far greater chance of a successful bid at regional level. If the bid was for £5million or more, than it would be considered at the national HLF board, where you are up against the Buckingham Palaces and Stonehenges of the World..

The submission of the HLF bid will now most likely go to Cabinet for approval in June. Any successful HLF has to go through two stages in the HLF process. If our bid was successful, then the earliest the HLF monies would be available is 2014.

The phase 1 restoration of Moseley Road baths will require the building to be closed to the public for two years and would do the following:
– Permanent repairs to the exterior fabric of the building with a life of 25 years – so basically a complete re-roofing to stop any water ingress
– Complete re-wiring and new machinery (eg new boilers) for the pool. We would be particular keen to install a combined heat and power system in the boiler house. This would heat all the buildings along Moseley Road and help to regenerate this corridor.
– Pool 2 maintained as a community swimming pool
– Pool 1 boarded over and used for community use.

Phase 2 of the restoration would involve getting pool 1 back in use as a swimming pool. Estimated cost of doing this is £9million.

The timing of 2014 as the earliest date for the start of phase 1 of the restoration fits in perfectly with the re-opening of Sparkhill pool in 2014. Once this re-opens, this will allow us to close Moseley Road baths for 2 years for this phase 1 restoration