Members of the local community joined with staff and users of Colmers Community Leisure Centre last night at the Longbridge ward committee meeting to show support for keeping the centre open.
As budget cuts are made across the city, essential savings in the Northfield District leisure budget are being sought. This means that Birmingham City Council are in the process of withdrawing from the Colmers site which they can no longer afford to run. Site users, staff and local residents expressed how important the centre is for the local community as council officials explained the process and the reasons for the withdrawal.
Council officials said that they are presently in negotiations with the headteacher and board of governors of Colmers School. BCC hope that the school can take over the provision of leisure services to the general public on the school site. Asked what would happen if the school declined, BCC’s Ifor Jones (Service Director, Homes and Neighbourhoods) would only say that talks had become “positive”.
The leisure centre is currently run by Birmingham City Council. The buildings are owned and leased by the school and the astro turf is owned by the council.
Officials were unable to provide more detail on any plans as negotiations are ongoing. Once a plan has been formed, it will be presented at a public meeting.
Organisers of a public campaign against the loss of service at the centre Lisa Widdicombe and Will Cumberton were both in attendance and a petition of 827 signatures (including 288 gathered online on B31 Voices) was handed to Cllr Andy Cartwright.
The three Longbridge councillors Andy Cartwright, Jess Phillips and Ian Cruise, all expressed their resolve to ensure that community leisure services continued in some form on the site.
Lisa Widdicombe put forward the idea to form a Friends of Colmers Leisure Centre group which could offer assistance in future to help secure extra funding for the centre etc. Officials agreed to consider how this could be worked in to any plan. If you are interested in learning more about the plans for a Friends group and how you could help, contact Lisa on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the campaign Facebook group
Birmingham City Council had planned to withdraw from the site at the end of March but, as no agreement on the future of the centre had been reached, the withdrawal deadline has been extended until 31st May.
The public meeting should take place on a Saturday in April and we will let you know details on date and time as soon as we have them.