Baths Protest

Closing the Baths and Library?

We protest proposal to close community buildings in Levenshulme.

The Levenshulme Community Association is surprised that a previous promise to keep Levenshulme Baths open until a new centre is ready appears to have been totally abandoned in response to Government cuts to Manchester’s Rate Support grant. It seems to be symbolic of defeat! The Community Association wishes to protest about this precipitous decision.  Local people want to be involved.  We will seek an amendment to the budget recommendations, which have not yet been signed off.

We are glad to hear that capital has been identified for a new building, but we would like to be better informed about plans to locate the new facility and we want a proper time scale.  We would prefer to keep community facilites on Barlow Road, so that that neighbourhood remains a vibrant part of Victorian Levenshulme. But now there is the prospect of a double hit on the same area of Levenshulme – with our historic Carnegie Library also down for closure.

The Council web site (16 January 2013) says that out of the further funding gap of £80million, “For Neighbourhood Services, savings of £12m have been identified for 2013-15.  The service remains committed to supporting safe, clean and sustainable neighbourhoods with a high quality, accessible network of facilities such as parks, libraries, leisure centers and other sports facilities.  An analysis of swimming pool usage in the city shows that excluding school use and lessons, the average number of users is low.  Experience from elsewhere shows that a smaller number of well-located modern facilities should increase usage.”

But where WILL the children go to learn to swim? How much time and money will it cost to get to the Aquatics Centre? Children were very vocal – showing their upset about the closure, when the news broke last week.

The Council proposal seems to say there is money set aside for a new multi-use centre in Levenshulme: “The Council will make a one-off capital investment of £10 million in modern replacement facilities for Chorlton/Withington (to open at Hough End in spring 2015) and Levenshulme (to open spring 2015) alongside an already-funded new pool in Beswick (to open autumn 2014). ….Levenshulme Library is proposed for closure but a new library facility for Levenshulme will share a building with the new leisure centre”. How much has actually been allocated to Levenshulme?

In Levenshulme, there are no other public meeting places.  For some people, going to their weekly swim or to take their books back to the library, is the only time they get to meet friends.  Baths and Libraries are not just about book loans and swimming,  They are about association and combating loneliness.  They are about our sense of Place and Community identity. They are accessible and inclusive and NOT the same as pubs or private cafes. Libraries are  about children getting together, doing homework, parents organizing play sessions, and community organisations holding meetings.  We want to support our neighbours in Burnage, whose library is also due to close this year.  The Government’s public service cuts are jeopardizing our community.

A protest march is being held on Saturday to which everybody is invited.  We will meet outside Tesco’s on Stockport Road at 12 noon and then proceed to the baths and library before dispersing in Greenbank Playing fields. Our MP, Sir Gerald Kaufman has agreed to support us.

Lydia Meryll

Secretary of Levenshulme Community Association

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

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