£1m revamp bid for Walsall's Gala Baths

Walsall's Gala Baths could receive a makeover worth up to £1 million to create a modern leisure complex, amid fears it was outdated and could close.

£1m revamp bid for Walsall's Gala Baths

A full cost review of investing in the town centre swimming baths is to be carried out by Walsall Council after it was backed by members of the full council last night.

A 2,000-signature petition was collected by campaigners who feared the baths in Tower Street, which has two swimming pool, fitness gyms and studio facilities, may be closed down.

Council bosses said the move would help secure the future of the site.

Councillor Pete Smith, of Blakenall ward, put forward a resolution requesting a review with investment in the site.

He told the meeting: "This council calls for a review and more detailed report for council and cabinet to consider using a cost benefit analysis approach as to how this council to remodel the Gala pool and retain the Brine pool

"An investment cost of £1m may ensure another 10 year lease of life given to the this town centre site."

Councillors voted overwhelmingly in favour of the proposal. It could see the main pool remodelled and popular Brine pool maintained.

Councillor Eileen Russell, of St Matthew's ward, which includes the town centre, said: "The importance of this debate to the people of Walsall cannot be over-emphasised. The petition itself demonstrates this and I now have an extra 260 signatures.

"People in and around Walsall want the baths to remain open. These people have got the message that we are all responsible for our own health and wellbeing."

Walsall Council leader Mike Bird told the chamber: "At no time has anybody said that the Gala Baths will close. It is a myth. We are working on a strategy to develop leisure facilities for the next 20 to 30 years."

A council report states the pool is too deep, changing facilities are poor and the fitness suite too small.

There are £15m plans to rebuild Oak Park, in Lichfield Road, Walsall Wood, which would be more cost-efficient in the long-term. Refurbishment of Darlaston Baths, in Victoria Road, Darlaston, is also planned.

But the building of a new leisure centre in Bloxwich has been thrown into doubt amid complications over land ownership. Talks must now take place between the town hall and the Charity Commission over building on trust land.

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