COME ON RAY, LET’S SEE THE MOSELEY ROAD BATHS REPORT
Following news that Birmingham’s Cabinet Member for Leisure Ray Hassall has criticised the “barminess” of restoring the Edwardian swimming pool on Moseley Road, The Stirrer is throwing down a challenge to him. Let’s see the consultants report on which your comments are based for ourselves.
Hassall’s outburst came at a scrutiny committee yesterday, in which he argued that modern sports facilities are more popular than old ones – for a full report see today’s Birmingham Post (see link here)
He is, of course, entitled to his opinion – but so are the campaigners who have been fighting so vigorously to preserve these historic pools.
Writing on the Stirrer a few days ago, Russ Spring offered a vision of the future of Moseley Road baths which, if funding could be found, seemed to make perfect sense (see link here)
The key question is how much the restoration would cost; and whether the building would then be sustainable in the years to come.
What’s frustrating is that Hassall knows the answers to these questions, thanks to a consultants report commissioned at taxpayers’ expense, but he won’t share its findings with the rest of us.
We were promised initially that it would be available in the autumn. Now we’re told that we have to wait until spring for the creation of a “sports masterplan” drawn up by Sport England.
Why? It’s our Council, our report, and our leisure facilities we’re talking about here – there’s no good reason why we shouldn’t we have the information now to make up our own minds and contribute to the debate.
Even our elected representatives are being kept out of the loop. In an email seen by The Stirrer, Labour’s Leisure Spokesperson Penny Holbrook wrote to Friends of Moseley Road baths saying, “I have on several occasions asked for the copy of the report commissioned by BCC into the future of the baths. Sadly it has not been available to me.”
Hassall’s Lib Dem colleague Martin Mullaney is one of the few who has seen the report, but can’t divulge its secrets – other than to say that it confirms his view that a refurb is possible at a reasonable cost.
In another circular to the Friends seen by The Stirrer Mullaney writes, “It is a well written report which concludes with positive ways forward to the full restoration of the baths and library.
“I have asked for the report to be made publicly available, but this has been refused. I do not agree with the reasoning given.”
The Stirrer has today put in a Freedom Of Information request because we simply can’t see why something paid for by the taxpayers of Birmingham shouldn’t be seen by the taxpayers of Birmingham.
©2007 The Stirrer