Campaign group set for control of Leeds swimming baths

'GREAT OPPORTUNITY': Coun Caroline Gruen inside Bramley Baths.
'GREAT OPPORTUNITY': Coun Caroline Gruen inside Bramley Baths.
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Volunteers campaigning to take over the running of historic Bramley Baths from Leeds City Council have victory in sight.

Senior councillors are next week expected to agree that control of the pool and leisure facilities be handed to the Friends of Bramley Baths under the council’s community asset transfer policy.

The authority’s executive board is also being recommended to agree three libraries threatened with closure – Shadwell, Rawdon and Drighlington – can be run by the community.

But Cow Close library in Farnley is proposed for closure as no community group came forward with a business plan to take it over.

Fears for the future of Bramley Baths were sparked when the council decided to reduce its opening hours as part of budget cuts.

Backed by West Leeds Labour MP Rachel Reeves, Bramley councillors and the community, the friends group earlier this year submitted a business plan to the council.

A report to the board said the aim of the transfer was to initially maintain the current opening hours of 49 a week and, if successful, the group hoped to extend them in future.

It added: “The business plan produced by the Friends of Bramley Baths, following advice from council officers, projects a £10,000 deficit in year one and a break even trading position by year two.”

The report said the transfer would shift some – but not all – of the liabilities and risks associated with the 1904 building from the council to the group.

It concludes: “On balance, it seems right to proceed with a transfer.”

Former Leeds West MP John Battle, who chairs the friends group, said: “I have been amazed and excited by the really strong group that has emerged from the community and worked really hard in putting a proposal to keep the baths going.

“With the council’s positive response we now have the chance to create a new kind of partnership for the benefit of the people of Bramley and the city.”

Coun Adam Ogilvie, the council’s executive member for leisure services, said: “We are very supportive of the proposals put forward by the Friends of Bramley Baths and would like to commend them for the exceptional way in which they have developed and presented their plans.

“Bramley Baths is a very special and important historical building and this transfer offers the best chance for this much-loved facility to have a strong future.”

Coun Caroline Gruen (Lab, Bramley) said: “I am encouraged that the recommendation is positive. It’s a great opportunity for the friends to put their plans into action.”

The Friends of Drighlington Community will first take over the library service and plan to assume control of the building at a later stage.

David Young, secretary of the group, said: “There will be a lot of cheering among our group with the council’s recommendation.”