HEAVY PRICE FOR RESTORED BATHS
There was a huge turnout for the Bournville Lane Baths open day, with queues stretching all the way up the street.
The numbers of people just go to show how much interest and affection there is for the derelict baths. It would be wonderful to see this fine building restored but local residents need to ask themselves what price they are willing to pay for this to happen.
Our councillors tell us that this is a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ and imply that this is only possible by welcoming a large developer such as Tesco. However, a massive supermarket will also bring more congestion, more pollution and more shop closures. Tesco themselves predict that the Co-op would lose around 40% of its business. It’s hard to imagine that Co-op could survive such a downturn and the store would therefore close, transferring the dereliction from one side of the Pershore Road to the other.
It’s also worth remembering that although Stirchley would be getting a brand new community centre it is ultimately only a replacement for what already exists. The chronic lack of facilities in the area would only be marginally improved. Moreover, anyone who peeked inside the baths today and dreamt of seeing the historic interior restored would have been sadly mistaken. Only the facade and the chimney would remain and everything else would be demolished.
As for the money it is simply not true that only a company like Tesco can provide it. Funds for regeneration exist at a local, national and EU level and there are examples all over the country where imaginative partnerships have brought real improvements for communities. What Stirchley needs is commitment from the council and a vision that doesn’t depend on being bailed out by Tesco’s deep pockets. In fact the dereliction has only been exacerbated by wrangling over the development site. It is Tesco who have fenced off the site and boarded up houses, while parcels of land are also owned by Co-op and Sainsbury. Imagine what could have been possible if this land had been free for developments that the community actually needs?
We believe that the council should reconsider and finally give Stirchley the attention it so badly requires. Our councillors have now received the results from the public consultation we held in July and hopefully it will give them food for thought. Whatever they decided to do now will define Stirchley for the next fifty years. Yes, it would be great to see the baths restored but we believe that the people of Stirchley deserve much, much more