Friends of Moseley Road Baths AGM

A well attended Annual General Meeting took place on Thursday 10 April in the ORT Café welcoming regular as well as new supporters. Following our public consultation on your views on the future use and management of the building the aims of the group have been amended to reflect the ambition for swimming to remain at Moseley Road but to allow for discussions on how this is best achieved.

With the local council aiming to reopen Sparkhill baths in 2015 and therefore close Moseley Road the AGM heard about a recent meeting between the group and council aimed at making every effort to seek a way to keep the baths open. Hopefully there will be more progress to come following this meeting and further dialogue with the council.

Following the business side of the AGM supporters broke into several groups looking at how best to utilise their own skills and contacts to support the campaign. With lobbying and liaison, events and media there are opportunities for supporters to work together on the campaign and we would welcome any ideas or help you can bring to the work of the group to keep Moseley Road Baths open.

Martin Mullaney to chain himself to the building

We have received this press release from former Cabinet Member for Sport, Leisure and Culture, Martin Mullaney.  Frustrated with the Council’s failure to submit the HLF bid he is making a public protest about their failure to commit to the long term future of the building.

Why I will be chaining myself to Moseley Road baths this Thursday

This Thursday, 14th February,  between 10am and 12noon I will be chaining myself to Moseley Road baths at protest against Birmingham City Council’s recent decision to cancel the Heritage Lottery bid for phase 1 of the restoration of the baths AND its announcement that once the current boilers break down or the buildings have a structural fault they will be permanently closing the building to swimming. Readers of my blog will know that both the boilers and the roof of the building are on their last legs and probably won’t last longer than 2015.

I will be wearing an Edwardian swimming costume, since Moseley Road baths are the last completely intact and operating Edwardian swimming baths in Britain. Statutory listed Grade II* – less than 10% of listed buildings have such a high listing – these baths are not only important to Balsall Heath, but are of national importance.

I was Cabinet member for Leisure, Sport and Culture for Birmingham City Council from 2009 to 2012 and led on the Council’s Heritage Lottery bid for these baths. In March 2012, I persuaded my Cabinet colleagues to commit to allocating £3million of 2015/16 capital money from the Council’s budget, which would be used as match funding against a bid for £5million from the Heritage Lottery fund.

The total cost of this phase 1 of the restoration of Moseley Road baths would have been £8million (£3million from the Council; £5million from the Heritage Lottery Fund) and would have done 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.

In December 2012, the new Labour administration announced that the Heritage Lottery bid was been withdrawn and there would no longer be any plans to restore the baths or even to keep them as swimming baths. Further, the Labour administration has repeatedly claimed the £3million allocated never existed. This is total rubbish. The Cabinet report allocating the £3million was counter-signed by the Chief Financial officer who is not allowed to sign financial reports if the financial details do not add up or the monies are non-existent. The money would have come from the 2015/16 capital budget which amounts to £1,000million per year and £3million within that budget would have been set aside for Moseley Road baths.

Please feel free to join me at this protest. You don’t need to lock yourself up. Just be there and show support.

Martin Mullaney
(0121) 689 4372

Sign our online petition!

Thank you to those of you who have been in touch asking how you can get involved.  Our contact list is growing, our Twitter followers ( are increasing and more people are joining our Facebook page ( daily.

There is now an online petition that supporters can sign at  This is important as it goes directly to Councillors and if we get enough signatures they will need to discuss it.

Yesterday members of the group braved the weather and lobbied the Hall Green Constituency meeting.  Jen writes:

‘We gave out leaflets and got names on petitions today. The councillors came out to talk to us but the message is the same – they will keep swimming at the baths “as long as possible” but it’s not in the long term plan. One thing that annoys me is the way each administration blames the last for the state of Moseley Rd Baths.
Let’s keep the pressure on and send a loud clear message that WE WANT TO SWIM AT MOSELEY ROAD’

So – clearly a lot of persuasion is needed!  We will be gathering on Wednesday 30th January at 7:30pm at Anderton Park School Children’s Centre for a campaign strategy meeting.  Please come if you want to be involved in the nitty gritty of the campaign!

Public ‘campaign tactics’ meeting

The big question around the closure is ‘what now?’  Whilst it’s easy to be defeatist when told that there is no money, every time the Council has tried to shut the building down they have failed.  We have every reason to believe, with £50,000 having just been spent doing the surveys and sums to put together a viable business plan, that they will fail once again.

We are hosting a meeting to discuss campaign tactics and to formulate a strategy (no big speeches – we promise!).  We want to make sure that different groups of swimmers and residents are represented.  So, if you work at a local school, we want you there.  If you are passionate about Women Only swimming, please come along.  If your children are on the ‘Strokes’ programme, turn up and get involved.  In fact anyone who wants to reverse the Council’s policy on closing the building for swimming and wants to get proactive in the nitty gritty of the campaign, please come along.

The meeting is at:

Anderton Park Childrens Centre, Dennis Road, Birmingham, B12 8BL

30th January


Hope to see you there!


Lobby the Council – bring a placard!

Last year several hundred people, including local school pupils, wrote letters to the Council asking that the Baths reopen for swimming.  A consultation exercise for the HLF bid found quite overwhelming support for swimming in the building.  We’ve received so many messages from people upset that swimming may stop at Moseley Road Baths.  It’s clear that local councillors are not representing the very clear wishes of local people and failing in their duty to provide swimming facilities.

So, just to make them aware of the strength of feeling and to coax them into committing to the future of the building as a public swimming pool, we will be lobbying the:

Hall Green District (constituency) meeting

next Tuesday 22 Jan

12.15pm at the Council House, Victoria Square

We appreciate that this is a mid-week lunchtime, but if you can commit to come along, make a placard etc. then this would be wonderful in demonstrating the opposition that exists to the Council’s policy towards the building.  We know you are a creative and vocal bunch, and the press do so love a pretty picture, so please do what you can!

We Want To Swim! demo - Summer 2011

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.’ Most of the people coming for a swim are players of DaisySlots casino. It was said in the interview that swimming helps them to ease the mind before getting into play.

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


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 and the Friends of Moseley Road Baths have an active blog at and can be found at

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

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 if you wish to make nominations for the positions of Chair, Secretary or Treasurer.