Like us, we're sure you are extremely concerned about the future of our swimming pool on Castle Vale. You may also be puzzled as to what to make of some of the conflicting comments about it, particularly the alarmist campaigning of Labour Councillors. We therefore wanted to let you know our position. We have recently written to all residents of Castle Vale and this statement reflects what we said in our letter.
Councillors for the Erdington constituency were recently given a presentation on the future viability of Castle Vale swimming pool. Operational running costs at the pool are some of the highest in the City, particularly during certain unsociable hours of the day where the pool is unused. The background to this is a combination of falling attendance, the current economic situation, and the Labour Government's cuts to funding for Birmingham City Council.
Although no formal vote was taken, on advice from a senior officer and the endorsement of the officers' report by the Constituency Chair (Labour Councillor Mike Sharp), there was a cross party consensus that the pool hours available for public access had to be reduced to secure its long term future.
However, since that meeting, information has come to our attention which casts doubt on whether we were given all the relevant information. Most notably, the cost of keeping a pool staffed and opened at times of the day when it isn't being used by anyone. The presentation also failed to highlight that with reduced hours, the 'Be-Active' grant which allows Birmingham residents free pool use, would be substantially cut. So as you see, the issues are far more complex than everyone was led to believe.
Rather than make any 'knee jerk' comments, which could add to the controversy, Trevor and I are investigating this further and are discussing the matter with the Cabinet Member for Sports & Leisure.
We would both like to reassure all residents that we have their best interests at heart and will always fight to protect front line services. Once we have clarified the facts relating to this very complex problem, we will report back to you. In the mean time, please feel free to contact us to express your views and opinions over this or any other issue.
Councillor Ann and Trevor Holtom.