Friday, November 09, 2012

The myth about Harborne swimming pool entrance fees

The myth about Harborne swimming pool entrance fees 

Excellent letter in today’s Birmingham Mail from Phil Stokes of the Harborne Society rebutting the nonsense said by Godfrey Webster of Birmingham Against the Cuts in a letter to the paper on Monday 5th November.
I reproduce both letters here. 
Photobucket Photobucket 

I must admit I was going to respond to Birmingham Against the Cuts claim that “Everyone knows that privatised Harborne baths are the most expensive in the city to use”. 

Phil Stokes is correct that the entrance price to Harborne baths is exactly the same as all the other baths in Birmingham. This is because the price of swimming is set at the corporate centre, using a price range within which constituencies (and the private company managing Harborne baths) can set their price.

I telephoned three swimming baths this afternoon to check Birmingham Against the Cuts claim.

The entrance prices were as follows:

Harborne baths: £3.60 adult; £2.20 child

Northfield baths: £3.60 adult; £2.40 child 

Small Heath baths: £3.60 adult; £2.20 child 

As you can see, the Birmingham Against the Cuts claim is complete fantasy – however I am sure that these facts won’t stop them repeating their nonsense claim.

Further the other fact that Birmingham Against the Cuts won’t mention is that Harborne baths used to require a subsidy of £300,000 to run. With the re-building of the baths, the Council calculated that the new baths would require a £150,000 per annum subsidy. DC Leisure are paying the Council for the pleasure of managing the day-to-day operation of Harborne baths – Harborne baths are the only Leisure Centre in Birmingham that do NOT require a subsidy.

.....and how are DC Leisure managing to make a profit where the Council cannot. The answer is simple: they get more people to use the facility and keep its day-to-day running costs to a minimum. Council run baths keep marketing, cleanliness, maintenance and investment in energy saving devices to a minimum, fully in the knowledge that the taxpayers will bail out the facility. Privately managed municipal baths up-and-down the country promote their facilities, keep the cleanliness and maintenance at a high standard AND keep investing in ways to reduce energy consumption – they know that there is no taxpayers money to bail them out and therefore they have to provide high quality facilities.

When I was Cabinet member for Leisure, Sport and Culture, I put the interests of the citizens of Birmingham before any political ideology. One can only hope that the new Birmingham Labour administration does the same and doesn’t listen to the rubbish spouted out by Birmingham Against the Cuts.


At 10:19 AM, Blogger Doug Nichols said...

I think the problem is that councils simply don't have the capital that private companies have to invest in a brand new complex. There's no reason to think that a council run centre could not be managed in the same manner as a private one. It's simply a case of having the right management in place and investment to develop and market the complex. However, with a government set on privatising everything in sight, it's unlikely that we'll ever see profitable public businesses such as leisure centres.


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