Friday, October 18, 2013

Save Beeches Pool!

Earlier this year the council's Labour leadership announced that some swimming pools might close. We consulted residents about Beeches pool and nobody wanted it to close. 

Indeed there was all-party agreement between councillors in this area that it should stay open and be rebuilt if possible.

Now it has emerged that somebody centrally in the council has ear-marked Beeches for closure. At the moment, we are pleased to say, we believe the all-party agreement locally to oppose this remains.

We will be campaigning to save it. to save it there will need to be changes - read on - but we think it would be utterly appalling to strip this facility from our local community. The campaign will be led by Cllrs Karen Hamilton and Jon Hunt and will draw on the massive expertise of Cllr Ray Hassall, who once oversaw leisure facilities in the city. Details of a petition will be circulated shortly.

What's shocking about this is the following:

  • it was agreed on all sides that we could save pools by bringing in private management or doing other deals with the private sector. This has been done successfully in other places - but somebody in the council leadership has decided not to bother trying for Beeches Pool.
  • the council states its policy is to target resources at areas of deprivation. Yet we understand Newtown Pool, the next one down the A34 is also unlikely to be retained. It would be moved into Icknield Port, close to an affluent area of Ladywood.
  • when we debated this in council Jon Hunt specifically pushed the point that the inner city pools, such as Handsworth Leisure Centre, should also be subject to private management to improve efficiency and public use. We understand now this is not going to happen. Instead inefficient pools will be propped up with public health money, which will only be avaiable in designated areas.
  • Yet again the Labour council tries to designate Great Barr as "affluent". We are a  mixed community and our own advice bureaux show us there are many desperate and poor people struggling to live in our community.
  • These decisions were meant to be taken by the local Perry Barr district committee. The views of the committee appear to being overridden by central planners.

It appears we are being sold out in favour of a rebuild in Kingstanding.

We have seen the proposed closure date. We can probably not publish it as it is confidential. However it is quite soon.

Photo: Councillor Karen Hamilton at the pool. 
To obtain petition: click the image to the right, drag the full-sized image to a folder on your computer and  then print out. It should fit standard A4 paper.

Alternatively contact one of us for copies of the petition by emailing

You can also join a Facebook page but remember "liking" a Facebook page is not the same as signing a petition or writing a letter.

* Update about the timetable:

This is how we understand it is due to work. Sir Albert Bore meets next Monday privately with his cabinet and his officers and may decide to agree the closure recommendation. He will hear the alternative proposals from the Perry Barr district committee.

Next event: City council meeting Tuesday November 5th - first petition signatures presented.

If Councillor Bore agrees the closure plan, it will go in the city budget proposals which will be subject to public consultation in November and December.

Next council meeting: Tuesday December  3rd. Karen would need to present thousands of signatures to have an impact. 10,000 signatures would trigger an inquiry by a scrutiny committee.

The final version of the budget would be agreed by the city cabinet in early February and  voted on by the full city council at the end of February. Based on last year's experience there could be significant changes to the budget by the time the cabinet meets.