Councillor Trickett and her fictitious claims over the closure of Moseley Road baths
Councillor Trickett and her fictitious claims over the closure of Moseley Road bathsCouncillor Trickett appeared on yesterday’s Adrian Goldberg show on Radio WM where she tried to justify the closure of Moseley Road baths.
The link to the broadcast can be heard at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p013s3mz Councillor Trickett's interview starts at 1hour 35minutes
She makes the following two significant claims in her interview that are completely fictitious. These are:
Claim 1: “Firstly there was never any funding for Moseley Road baths. There had been a very vague commitment by the previous administration. Yet no money had ever been identified. “
Claim 2: “no money had been put aside. No bid had actually been work on. They hadn’t even done the costings of the actual works. We had to start on that a fresh in May.”
Let’s deal with Claim 1.
Below are the key pages from the 21 page Cabinet report that allocated £3million from future capital resources for a Heritage Lottery bid. The report was approved by Cabinet on 5th March 2012. I have highlighted the relevant points to note:
Notice that recommendation 2.5 which says “Cabinet is requested to agree to allocate up to £3m of resources for improvements to Moseley Road Baths, to be funded by a review of the capital programme, subject to a successful application for Heritage Lottery Fund grant, as described in Appendix 1 para 1.3.6. “
Notice that the recommendation says “funded by a review of the capital programme”. So that’s where the money will come from: the Council’s Capital programme. And how much is the Council’s annual capital programme? Just over £1,000million per year. Yes, £1,000million per year and we were going to shuffle things around and allocate £3million. And when did we need this £3million? In 2015. The Heritage Lottery bid would take two years to complete AND Sparkhill baths would be open in 2015.
In short: The Cabinet agreed to allocate £3million from future capital resources on 5th March. The Chief Finance officer was happy that there was plenty of leeway within the 2015/16 capital budget of over £1,000million to accommodate this.
Councillor Trickett and others from the Labour Party have been playing with semantics about which capital budget this £3million was coming from. This is academic, since in the drawing up of the 2015/16 budget, the £3million for Moseley Road baths would have been accommodated within a capital budget somewhere.
So how the hell can Councillor Trickett claim “there was never any funding for Moseley Road baths” when there is a Cabinet report agreeing to the allocation of £3million from a £1,300million budget in 2015
Let’s look at claim number 2
She claims that (a) no costings for works required for Moseley Road baths had been done by May 2012 (b) absolutely no work had even started on the Heritage Lottery bid by May 2012.
Both this claims are completely fictitious.
A complete structural survey was completed on Moseley Road baths in Spring 2007. The survey was part of much broader historic survey which would form the basis of a Heritage Lottery bid. The historic element looked at the historic importance of the baths from a national context. The structural survey went through the building with a fine tooth comb looking at what needed fixing or restoring and calculating the cost to put right. The total cost of restoration came out at between £17m to £20m. The variation in cost was due to the level of modern facilities one wanted at the baths.
Getting the Heritage lottery to fund a huge amount of a £17million bid was completely out of the question – this was made clear by the Heritage Lottery team. Also, with the 2012 Olympics draining the Heritage Lottery of finance, any sizeable bid would have to wait until after 2012.
For this Heritage Lottery bid we, after advice from the Heritage Lottery, to break down the total restoration of the baths into phases. Phase 1 would cost £8million (£5million from the Heritage Lottery; £3million from the Council).
Work took place within the Council during 2011 to work out how much the bid should be – the £8million was calculated using the 2007 structural survey costings (plus allowing for inflation) and the intention was to ‘stop the rot’. £8million will stop the rot in the building and give the building another 25 year minimum of trouble free swimming.
In the lead-up to the 5th March 2012 Cabinet meetings, I had meetings with both the Chief Financial Officer and the Cabinet member for Finance, to ensure that they were supportive of £3million being used as match funding AND that there was lee-way within the 2015 capital budget to allocate £3million for Moseley Road baths.
Once Cabinet gave approval on 5th March 2012 for the £3million allocation, work started on the Heritage Lottery bid in earnest. Work couldn’t start before this date, if the Cabinet decided not to approve any money for match funding in a Heritage Lottery bid.
So it is completely fictitious for Councillor Trickett to claim “No bid had actually been work on. They hadn’t even done the costings of the actual works. We had to start on that a fresh in May.” Alot of work had happened in the weeks and months prior to May 2012.