Councillors have been accused of sounding the death knell for an historic Edwardian swimming baths in Birmingham.
The Friends of Moseley Road Baths said Hall Green District Committee members had killed off hopes of restoring the venue by refusing to discuss submitting a bid for a £5 million Heritage Lottery Fund investment at a meeting on Tuesday.
The group said £50,000 was spent putting together a bid, which would have also involved £3 million of council cash, only for the proposal to be scrapped at the last minute.
In a series of angry tweets posted as the meeting was held, it said Labour claims of support for the Balsall Heath baths were a “downright lie” if the party’s councillors refused to submit the bid in the face of “overwhelming support” for it.
Friends secretary Rachel Gillies told the Post: “This says everything you need to know about their attitude to our community.
“People are very angry. At no point have they come to us and addressed our concerns about the need for people to swim.
“There is no strategy and they are hoping this will all just go away.”
Committee member, Coun Lisa Trickett (Labour), insisted the Moseley Road Baths were an “important asset”.
But she admitted it was a “no-brainer” to support alternative £6 million proposals for the new Sparkhill Baths with the overall package of restoring Moseley Road put at £22 million.
The council performed a U-turn on the Heritage Lottery Fund bid last year.
Coun Trickett said last December the cash to meet the council’s end of the commitment “did not exist” and blamed the authority’s previous Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition for failing to identify the money.
She told the Post this week that the council’s money was tied up in settling the £757 million cost of equal pay claims brought by mainly women workers who missed out on bonuses.
“We put a business plan together and were about to submit it when all our capital was frozen because of the pay claim,” she said.
“The baths are an important asset and I’m not going to have them become a political football.
“We should be working with the Friends and looking at a community asset transfer.
“If you have a choice between Sparkhill Baths at £6 million and Moseley Road at £22 million, which one would you go for?
“The one you could guarantee will be open in 2015 or the Heritage Lottery Fund route, where you would be looking at six or seven years before you could get it open? It’s a no-brainer.”
Coun Trickett added that Sparkhill offered “value for money and the best case for deprived communities”.
Of the Lottery Fund plan for Moseley Road, she added: “My view is we can put in a bid down the line but, at this moment, we don’t have the money.
“We aren’t selling off things like the NEC because there’s money in our pocket.”
Based in Balsall Heath, the Grade II* listed Moseley Road Baths opened on October 30, 1907. Two pools were originally in use but only one remains active.
The venue was closed for more than a year for a series of repairs before re-opening in April last year.
In a number of tweets, the Friends group said: “Blocking a comprehensive bid to the HLF to keep the building in use signals the death knell of the baths and a disaster for Balsall Heath.
“I would like to say I’m surprised by the council’s arrogance, but I’m not. ”
“Councillors are hoping that the Friends of Moseley Rd Baths will come up with a solution for Baths. No, you develop a strategy. We’ve been fobbed off for far too long.”