“We Want To Swim” Demo

As the six-week school summer holidays got underway a group of frustrated parents and children descended on Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath to complain about the ongoing closure of their favourite pool.

Summer holiday 'non-swim'

The Baths shut for essential repairs at Christmas for what Birmingham City Council initially claimed would be just six weeks, but more than six months later there’s still no sign of the building reopening, with the Council acknowledging that it will take another nine weeks for additional maintenance work to be carried out, leaving locals without a public pool, a situation exacerbated by the long-term closure of nearby Sparkhill Baths.

Around twenty Moseley Road Baths regulars attended Monday’s demonstration, organised by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths group. Jenny Wale, who came along with her daughters Millie (aged 9) and Sadie (11) said: “My children have nowhere to swim locally and because of the closure we have to drive several miles to our nearest pool. They’re missing out on something they love.”

Summer holiday 'non-swim'

David Pratt from Moseley Shoals swimming club was another demonstrator: “We are currently using Small Heath Leisure Centre to swim but we’d love to have our local baths back operating again.” The club have also tried using Cocks Moors Woods Leisure Centre at Alcester Lanes End but found it unsuitable for their requirements, being more of a leisure pool.

Friends’ Secretary Rachel Gillies remarked: “The school holidays have just begun, the weather’s been getting warmer and local children are desperate to come and swim at their local pool. It’s crucial that the remaining building and maintenance work starts as soon as possible so that this valuable and well-loved community facility can re-open and be enjoyed by all.”

Although work to replace the lintel above a door in the swimming pool (the initial reason for the pool’s closure) has now been completed, Birmingham City Council’s Urban Design team are insisting on the replacement of temporary scaffolding in the basement, while an asbestos survey of this area must also be carried out. Negotiations between contractors and the Council over the costs and details of this work have been ongoing for several weeks. On Monday, Councillor Martin Mullaney, Chairman of Leisure, Sport and Culture, stated that it would be late September at the earliest before Moseley Road Baths re-opened.

For more information or additional comment, please contact Jen Austin, Friends of Moseley Road Baths: 0121 440 5794/07521 734 022

Friends of Moseley Road Baths

July 25th 2011

Join us for a ‘swim’

Dear MRB Supporter,

With Moseley Road Baths set to remain closed for the whole of the school holidays we’re inviting you (and if possible, your children) to join us outside the baths at noon this coming Monday, July 25th – the first day of the school holidays – to express disappointment and unhappiness at the continued closure of Moseley Road Baths. We’ll take some photos and are inviting the local press along so bring your swimming costume (not to wear, but to hold up as it makes a much better picture!) and together we’ll try to increase pressure on Birmingham City Council to get the baths reopened for the first time since December 2010.

If you can get along that would be great, if you could tell a friend, that would be fantastic too. We’ll need you for about 15 minutes. Thanks.

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths

Pupils banner
Local pupils have previously made their views known!

Baths reopening delayed (again!)

We are sorry to have to tell you but we have now been informed that the pool will not be re-opening on July 15th as had been hoped. Following enquiries made by our Secretary, Rachel Gillies on Tuesday (later followed up with a ‘phone call to Councillor Martin Mullaney, BCC Cabinet member for Leisure, Sport and Culture), we understand that it will be a minimum of seven weeks (possibly longer), before the Baths re-opens.

The latest problem relates to the need to strengthen and replace the scaffolding in the basement (we mentioned this issue in an earlier post, last month). BCC safety officers have now asked for a series of measures to be taken in the basement before this work can commence. Cllr Mullaney tells us that he expects these measures to be attended to in around one week, but that the strengthening work itself will take six weeks, hence the minimum seven week timeframe.

One piece of good news however is that work on the new lintel over the door in Pool 2 should be completed this week, but with Tuesday marking exactly 6 months since the pool failed to re-open after the Christmas and New Year holidays, this latest failed deadline (the fifth, we think) is a serious blow and means that local children are likely to be unable to swim at MRB for most, if not all, of the summer holidays.

We’ll keep you updated, but please check back here for further details…and do let your local councillors know how frustrating it is to have Britain’s most historic pool closed for yet another couple of months.  We would welcome your thoughts on the closure, either via e-mail or by using the comments box below.

Baths to reopen in July

We received this update from Cllr Mullaney last night:

Update on Moseley Road baths -8th June 2011

First of all we have a new date for the re-opening of Pool 2 of Moseley Road baths – 15th July (plus or minus a day or two).

The stainless steel lintel above the fire exit door to Pool 2 is now in place. See attached photos (below).

The work to brick in this lintel in and remove the supporting frame will be complete by 8th July.

I have managed to secure the £50,000 to install permanent structural scaffolding in the basement. Work starts on the installation of this scaffolding on the coming Monday.

The background to why we need this permanent structural scaffolding can be read at http://martinmullaney.blogspot.com/2011/05/update-on-moseley-road-baths-10-th-may.html

Subject, to no further faults being found in the building, the pool will re-open to the public on 15th July thereabouts.

In the meantime, work is still moving forward on submitting a £5million bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2012 to start the first phase of restoring these baths.




Reopening setback

We are currently anxiously awaiting the reopening of the pool since it was closed for work in December 2010. Whilst we were initially of the understanding that work would start on the lintel above the Pool 2 Fire Exit immediately, it was some months before surveys were completed, business plans produced, money secured and a contractor appointed.

Yesterday we learnt of a further setback to the reopening, which was scheduled to take place on 23rd May. Cllr Mullaney has contacted us with the following e-mail:

Readers will be aware that Pool 2 of Moseley Road baths has been closed since Christmas so that the lintel above the fire exit door in this pool can be repaired.

See previous posting at http://martinmullaney.blogspot.com/2011/04/update-on-moseley-road-baths-4-th-april.html

We were hoping that the work would be completed on or around 23rd May. Unfortunately, we are now looking at, at best, 13th June. Although this date may be pushed back due to additional problems in the basement of the baths.

At time of writing, the stainless steel lintel for the fire exit door in Pool 2 is being manufactured in Switzerland. We hope to have it at Moseley Road baths in 2 weeks time. Installing and removing the steel frame holding up the load bearing wall above the fire exit, will take a further three weeks – hence the 13th June date.

In addition, the Council’s structural engineers have raised concerns about the state of decade old acrow props underneath the former second class mens slipper baths. These acrow props hold the floor up, which in turn holds up the roof at this section of the building.

The acrow props are heavily rusted and need replacing immediately.

Our Structural engineers will only allow any replacement temporary acrow props to remain in situ for two months and want a permanent structure put in place. Estimated costed is £100,000.

The council’s Urban Design team are in the process of costing a temporary and permanent solution. They hope to have this information to me by the end of this week.

Work commences at Baths

Re-opening of Moseley Road Baths planned for late May

Following an extended period of closure caused by structural problems with a wall in Pool 2, repair work was due to commence at Moseley Road Baths on March 21st, with a hoped for re-opening date of no later than May 23rd. The Baths failed to re-open after the Christmas and New Year break ahead of work commencing to repair the lintel support to the rear door of Pool 2. However, many users felt the closure to be premature, occurring as it did some weeks before the finance needed to carry out the repairs was in place.

With Sparkhill Pool closed since June 2008, swimmers have been forced to use alternative facilities, such as the leisure pools at Cocks Moors Woods and Fox Hollies, or the narrower and shorter pool at Tiverton Road in Selly Oak. To many Moseley Road Baths regulars, such facilities have proved inappropriate to their specific swimming needs. The closure has been particularly problematic for local schools, with many unable to afford the transport costs involved in travelling to pools further afield and with little or no spare capacity on the timetable for schools at these venues anyway.

The door that needs a new lintel today serves as a fire exit, having been added during World War II when Moseley Road Baths was used as a first aid centre.

Councillor Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, has kept residents and the Friends of Moseley Road Baths informed during the last few months of progress in arranging the repairs and getting the funds released by the Council Finance Department. However, a start date for the repairs was only confirmed in early March.

According to Councillor Mullaney: “The objective of the works is to replace the lintel on the fire exit of Pool 2, which will allow the pool to re-open to the public. The work will take between 6-9 weeks, depending on the complexity of the issues discovered when the current rotten lintel is removed. So at worst, the pool will re-open to public around 23rd May.”

The initial work involves constructing a steel frame to support the gable wall after the present lintel is removed. Speaking of the building’s long- term future, Councillor Mullaney stated that meetings have recently taken place involving senior council officers and English Heritage officials to investigate ways in which restoration of other areas of the baths building could be undertaken as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund bid.

Work due to begin on Pool 2

Cllr Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Sports, Leisure and Culture has today put an update on his blog re. the work to Pool 2. The pool closed at the beginning of the year and it has taken until now to identify the extent of the work to be done, prepare a business case and secure funds. However, the money has now been secured and work is due to begin soon. The full text of Cllr Mullaney’s update is below:

Update on Moseley Road baths – 22nd February 2011

At the moment Moseley Road baths is temporarily closed. Background to this closure can be read at http://martinmullaney.blogspot.com/2011/01/update-on-moseley-road-baths-14-th.html

As of yesterday, the funds to repair the fire exit in pool 2, which in turn will allow the pool to re-open, have been released by the Council Finance department.

I will be attending a contractors meeting next week, along with Council officers, to agree start and finish dates for the repair work.

It is anticipated that the repair work will require, at most, five weeks. So allowing at least a week for the contractor to move onto site, we are mostly likely looking at an 18th April re-opening date. However, this will be confirmed next week.

The repair work is quite complex, since a structural frame will need to be constructed above the fire exit lintel so as to allow the steel lintels to the replaced. The structural frame which will be required take the weight of roof that the lintel is presenting supporting

In the meantime, the water in pool 2 is being maintained on a slow circulation. This is so as to stop the tile grout inside the pool drying out and possibly cracking, plus it maintains the sand filters.

Additional to all this, several meetings have taken place between senior Council officers to look at ways in which the restoration works for the rest of the baths could be done in phases as part of a Heritage Lottery bid.

Moseley Shoals statement

We’ve been in touch with many people inquiring when Moseley Road Baths will reopen, really highlighting to us the need for it to open as soon as possible. Moseley Shoals have been using the Pool for group swim sessions for years, and have put their case to the Council as part of the ‘Business Case’ for the work on the pool to be commenced. I’ve copied in their statement here.


Moseley Shoals Swim Club (based at Moseley Road Pool)

We are a community swimming club, dedicated to lesbian, gay and bisexual swimmers. We formed at Moseley Road Pool in 2000, and we have hired the pool as a group for ten years. We are the largest local LGB sporting and social group in the Midlands, and one of only a few similar national groups. We have steadily built our group to achieve national and international recognition. We have developed coaching sessions and water polo at Moseley Road.

We have been able to build our club at Moseley Road Pool, through support from the local LGBT Community Trust and the pool staff and managers. We have developed sufficiently to hire the pool three times a week and organise a considerable social element to our club. We would be unlikely to be able to book these sessions at any other local pool at suitable times. In 2005 we were forced to move to Sparkhill Pool, and this disruption lost us members, which took us over two years to recover. We are already facing competition from private leisure sites and the need to charge full price to our members when public swimming is free.

We are self funding and contribute circa £1,000 every two months to the city leisure department. We have been acknowledged by the Birmingham LGBT Trust as a major provider of sporting and exercise opportunities to a marginalised group, facing discrimination and difficulty in accessing mainstream provision. We were given support by the Sports Council to further promote our club.

Our next marketing campaign is currently on hold. We have been unable to compete in a European swim gala this Spring, due to uncertainty over coaching sessions, which we have needed to cancel. Our members are unable to swim in a proper fashion, underlined by a disastrous trip to Cocks Moors Woods Leisure Centre, where despite being promised proper swimming provision, we were restricted to half a “fun” pool. Birmingham Leisure Department is losing our considerable hire fees, and losing visitors to the city. A quarter of our members visit from neighbouring districts, and spend money afterwards in the local economy on food, drinks and shopping.

We would be grateful for repairs to be completed swiftly and to a timetable which allows us to limit damage to our club, and to remain major supporters of community swimming and equal opportunities for city and neighbouring residents.

Mark Hillier
For Moseley Shoals Swim Club

13 January 2011

Update on closure from Councillor Mullaney

Many of you will be aware that Moseley Road Baths is currently closed as work was due to begin on the lintel area around the Fire Exit on Pool 2 this month.

Councillor Mullaney last week posted up a report on the latest developments which I would recommend people read to have a grasp of what is happening. The upshot is that further inspection is needed of the structure supporting the wall and the windows and that this will determine the time and cost involved.  Funding is apparently available, but has not yet been signed off by the Council.

Friends of Moseley Baths, whilst appreciating the scale, scope and cost of the work, are anxious to see the pool reopen as quickly as possible.  The Hall Green Constituency currently has no swimming provision at all, something which is disastrous for those who rely on regular swims to maintain mobility and good health, and especially concerning for young people locally who are being denied the chance to learn basic water safety. We want to see the work completed to the standard required of a Grade II* listed building.

It’s crucial that the public remain involved in monitoring what is happening.  We are asking people during the closure to contact local Councillors to ask them to commit to the maintenance and reopening of the building.

Please take the time and contact your local Councillors or attend local advice surgeries to ask for updates on the work, and to ensure that they will fully support the maintenance work and reopening of the pool.  Make sure that you use the comments page and/or our e-mail address to let us know if you get any response!  You may wish to ask them:

What do they know about the closure?

Are they actively pressing to ensure that the work is moving forward?

Will they approve the budget for the repairs to be done?

Are they committed to the future of swimming at Moseley Road Baths?

Are they prepared to make a public statement about the lack of all swimming provision in the Hall Green Constituency?

Are they committed to keeping Moseley Road Baths within local authority control?

Will they campaign on the issue in upcoming local elections?

We would also encourage people to contact the local press and attend local Ward Committee and Constituency meetings to keep the issue in the public eye.

Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture – Cllr. Martin Mullaney –  Martin.Mullaney@birmingham.gov.uk

Ward Councillors

Cllr. Mohammed Ishtiaq – Mohammed.Ishtiaq@birmingham.gov.uk

Cllr. Shokat Ali – Shokat.Ali@birmingham.gov.uk

Cllr. Salma Yaqoob – Salma.Yaqoob@birmingham.gov.uk

Local Press

Birmingham Post – Upload letters to the Editor here

Birmingham Mail – letters@birminghammail.net or call freephone number 0800 138 2555 or 0870 830 6985 between 8am and 5.30pm specifying that you are submitting a letter to the Birmingham Mail.