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SINK OR SWIM FOR BIRMINGHAM POOLS

18-06-2009

Womens baths

Councillors in Birmingham have delivered a shot across the bows to the city’s new Cabinet Member for Sport and Leisure, Martin Mullaney, warning him to put the future of local swimming baths like Sparkhill ahead of a new 50 metre pool near the city centre.

Members of the Hall Green Constituency Committee (comprising of councillors from Hall Green, Moseley and Kings Heath, and Sparkbrook and Springfield) were reacting to the news that Sparkhill’s “dry side” (ie the gym) has closed. The “wet side” ie the pool shut a year ago amid safety fears.

It now seems unlikely that it will ever re-open – as forecast in last week’s Stirrer column in the Birmingham Mail - although this has yet to be officially confirmed.

Writing on the Stirrer Forum, Mullaney said: “We now have two ways forward – restoration or rebuild. I am informed that rebuild is the cheaper option. The reason the restoration work costs so much is that the floors on the main pool need replacing – embedded steel rods in the floor have also corroded and cracked. The vertical steel structs are embedded in brickwork down into the cellar.

“The cellar itself needs improved ventilation and drainage. All of this could be done, BUT equally at similar cost there is an opportunity to provide a modern 25metre pool with a some spectator seating and more efficent use of dry facility space.

”A decision will be made in the next few weeks. If we do decide to rebuild, I would be keen to retain the Art Deco frontage and maybe see if we can incorporate into the new build the Art Deco stone feature that separated the learner and main pool.”

Meanwhile , the Committee passed a resolution yesterday, for the attention of Mullaney and his cabinet colleagues pointing out that while they, “note the Council's ambitions for an Olympic size swimming pool…the city's local swimming facilities, particularly Sparkhill Baths and Moseley Road Baths, are more relevant to residents of Birmingham.”

They also demand that, “that the City's local swimming facilities should be considered for funding as a priority, before the Cabinet proceed with funding a new Olympic size pool in the city centre.”

In last last week’s Mail column, The Stirrer warned that the future of Newtown Baths is also in jeopardy.

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