Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum from Manchester Victoria Baths Trust

  1.  In your oral evidence, you mentioned that schools had written to your campaigns about the difficulties of providing transport to pools for lessons for children, could you provide examples of these letters?

  2.  Carolyn Clark mentioned that she knew of schools who had taken swimming off the curriculum, could you provide details?

  3.  What alternative financial support to public sector funding have the campaigns explored, and how might revenue funding for the pools in question be maintained?

  Regarding the three additional questions which you have asked. The following is our answer in the time available.

  1.  I'm afraid we don't have letters to hand from schools. However we are all confident in stating that transport charges (and the time involved) are a big factor in whether and how frequently schools swim.

  2.  Hackney—Swimming in Shoreditch Schools since closure of Haggerston Baths. On closure eight local schools removed swimming from the curriculum. Reasons included:

    —  Cost of arranging transport to other pools as too far to walk

    —  No space at other pools as absorbing Haggerston work.


  Five schools no longer have any swimming at all (a further one could not be contacted to check current status), one has half the sessions they had when Haggerston Baths open, two have only just got sessions available to re-introduce, and one has considerable additional cost to travel to Leyton.

    1. Haggerston Girls' Secondary School with 900 pupils: no swimming since the closure. Annual swimming gala no longer held

    2. London Fields Primary School: no swimming.

    3. St Monica's Primary: re-introduced swimming in September 2001—at Britannia.

    4. William Patten Primary: no swimming.

    5. St Mary's Primary School: no swimming.

    6. Randal Cremer Primary use the Britannia, 25 minutes walk away which presents problems.

    7. Holmleigh Primary School: no swimming.

    8. Laburnum Primary School: use Britannia.

    9. St John: have to go by bus to Leyton (about four miles away).

    10. Whitmore Primary School: recently introduced swimming, but half the sessions and have to rotate classes who get the facility term by term.

    11. Burbage Primary School: could not be contacted in time for this note.

  Laburnum Boat Club now incurring additional costs of £2,000 per annum It can ill afford to bus children for water safety training in Kings Hall Pool.

  In Soho—All Souls and Soley St and Soho Parish schools have cut their swimming provision by 50 per cent since Marshall St closed.

  Victoria Baths in Manchester was the centre of competitive swimming in Manchester from 1906 to 1993. There was a very active Schools Swimming Association. With the cutback in school swimming in the 1980s and the closure of Victoria Baths in 1993, the association became inactive. Very few schools now hold galas. As a result the trophies that used to be awarded became redundant. There are now 14 big beautiful silver trophies collecting dust in Manchester. They used to be awarded every year to individuals or schools for various swimming achievements. They are poignant evidence of the collapse of school swimming in Manchester.


  Haggerston have looked at a range of funding sources as shown in their Business Plan (already submitted) and the proposal from Levitt Bernstein (already submitted).

  Friends of Marshall St have suggested that Westminster Council contract Aquaterra to run Marshall St Pool. Aquaterra are a not-for-profit company. Westminster Council said they were unsuitable because they run pools for Labour authorities! Proposals for re-development of Marshall St have included private investment.

  Victoria Baths have investigated a wide range of funding sources. In response to one of the members questions on this I would like to respond as follows:

  The proposals to redevelop Victoria Baths, Haggeston and Govanhill Pools as health living centres will have very wide-ranging benefits in areas of very high need. It is not difficult to identify potential capital funding sources. Our original business plan for Victoria Baths identified fifteen possible sources of capital funding. However we cannot access these sources until and unless we have a project which balances revenue with projected expenditure. Given the poor relationship we have with our local authorities this is a real problem. Despite the massive potential social benefit, Hackney and Glasgow will not even give support in principle, and none of the councils will pledge revenue support, although they were providing this in the past. We would like the committee to consider this problem. It seems that in projects with multiple benefits (sport, leisure, health, regeneration, economic) everyone wants to pass the buck when it comes to revenue support. And when inner city councils are hard pressed to meet the cost of education and social services, promoting wider participation in swimming can seem like a luxury, even though it has a lot of positive "knock-on" effects.

  Victoria Baths has also put considerable effort into attracting private sector finance, but to no avail. It would appear that our pools (ie Victoria Baths, Haggerston and Govanhill) are not in wealthy enough areas for private companies to take an interest. We don't rule this out for the future, but it seems unlikely to help at the present time.

  I hope this information is useful and look forward to reading the Committee's conclusions in due course.

6 December 2001

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