Wolverhampton’s Central Baths saved from threat of closure

27 March 2014

Today it was confirmed that Wolverhampton Central Baths, one of the main competition venues for the West Midlands, will be kept open following a business plan put forward by the City Council.

Despite pressure from Central Government to make savings of £123 million over the next five years which had previously put Central Baths under threat of closure, a decision has been made to keep the centre open following an innovative solution developed in partnership by the ASA, Sport England, the City Council and the leisure management team.

The three leisure centres in the area are all currently subsidised by taxpayers, costing around £2 million a year, but Wolverhampton Council and the leisure centres’ management team have worked with both the ASA and Sport England to put together a business model which should help all three centres generate more income and become self-funding.

Quality leisure facilities and better trained staff should help increase participation in swimming.

This decision will have a positive effect on the local community, offering quality leisure facilities and better trained staff to help increase participation in swimming and physical activity in general. It will also have a much wider effect allowing competitive swimming clubs right across the West Midlands to continue competing at their main competition venue.

Some of the proposed changes to the facilities include rebranding and marketing the facilities as the quality fitness centres they are, improving the customer experience to create a more welcoming environment and offering a single telephone number contact across all three facilities. They will also provide swimming lessons to children for 50 weeks each year, rather than the current 39.

There was a significant campaign organised by the local community which showed how important the swimming pool is to the area it serves. Over 6,000 people made their voices heard in the form of a petition to save the centre. They should start to see the benefits of the planned changes to the centre in the near future.

Cllr Elias Mattu was thrilled at the outcome: “We have worked extremely hard to identify ways that by commercialising the operation at our leisure centres we can ensure they pay for themselves and don’t require the level of subsidy they have needed in the past.’

“We will need to make some initial investment and where possible we will look for external funding opportunities to assist with this. That investment will enable us to provide a leisure offer that attracts far more customers and retains those customers.”

“The ASA is delighted with the announcement to keep Central Baths open."

Lesley Hill, ASA Divisional Business Manager for the Central Region commented: “The ASA is delighted with the announcement to keep Central Baths open.’

“We are pleased to see the combined effort and partnership work to develop this new commercial approach in running Central Baths has led to this positive outcome and a bright future for the leisure centre.’

“We will continue to work with and support the City Council and leisure management teams to get more people of all ages participating in swimming on a regular basis.”

Follow the link for more information on Wolverhampton Central Baths.

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