Leeds baths reprieved - at a price

Bramley Baths.
Bramley Baths.
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A funding boost of £38,000 will help a swimming pool continue for another six months – but other local projects are to have their grants slashed.

Area bosses have just finalised the grant to allow Bramley Baths to escape a 50 per cent cut in hours originally proposed by the council.

But the pool’s windfall means other projects will lose up to 20 per cent, and in one case almost a third, of their funding.

The annual I Love West Leeds Festival has seen its share of cash slashed from £25,000 to £18,000.

For neighbouring Armley, it will virtually wipe out the town centre events calendar. After taking out staff costs, there will be just £175 left in the town’s events pot.

The news follows a determined campaign by supporters of Bramley Baths, which saw OAPs and schoolchildren tweeting and marching against the hours cut, part of Leeds City Council’s £90m cuts programme.

A meeting of the West Leeds inner area panel has now agreed to fund a 20-hour increase in opening hours at the Baths from 29 to 49, from September to March, still down on the 60 hours campaigners had wanted.

Councillors agreed with a report from officers that “supporting Bramley Baths as an important community asset” was very important.

However the panel acknowledged: “In order for the area committee to consider funding Bramley Baths, a number of options have been identified. These involve reducing funding to other projects.”

The overall budget for the inner west Leeds area - £137,000 for 2011/12- is already down 12 per cent on last year.

The cash for Bramley Baths, which will fund longer opening for six months from September, means most other local projects will have their funding slashed by 19.3 per cent.

The officers’ report added: “The Town Centre Manager (TCM) project [Armley], for example, would see a reduction of funding from £25,000 to £20,175.

“This would mean that although the post could still be funded until March 2012, the events budget would be reduced to £175. In effect, this would result in all [town centre] events being cancelled for the year ahead and would undermine the role of the TCM.”

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