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.