This week Oldham Council have announced the closure of Shaw Baths. I recognise that the Baths need significant refurbishment, and have done for many years, and the dire financial position the Council are in as a result of £150m cuts from this Government since 2010 and a further £50m cuts next year, but I feel bitterly disappointed by the Council’s sudden decision to close them permanently.
I’ve been helping the Friends of Shaw Baths (FOSB) for over a year now to get hold of the information they need from the Council to see if the Baths can be transferred into community ownership. This decision has been made when there is still outstanding information needed from the Council.
However, since this announcement, the Council have indicated to me that the closure of the Baths does not rule out an asset transfer to the FOSB if they still want to go ahead with their business and feasibility plan. I have urged the Council to provide this information as soon as possible so that, even at this stage, the FOSB can assess if they are able to develop a business case for the transfer of the Baths into community ownership.
Shaw Baths is an important and valued facility; my own daughters learnt to swim there. So I believe it is very important that the Council now keeps its pledge to engage local residents about any future plans for leisure facilities in Shaw as many people are going to be left deeply, and understandably, disappointed by this sudden announcement.