Last week, I was contacted by reader Susan Croxford, who related some troubling news about the termination of evening swimming facilities at Brownhills School at Deakin Avenue.
The School has had for many years an excellent pool, which has been a popular and well used facility, erected for the school and community when the school became a ‘Community School’ in the late 1980s. To this end it’s been serving everyone well ever since.
However, recently, the school have decided to no longer open the pool to the community in the evenings.
From the letter Brownhills School have sent out, this could be a closure of all Community Facilities, but I’m unclear on that and welcome feedback. Obviously, if this is the case, this is a terrible blow for community activities in Brownhills.
Susan contacted me to say the following:
Thanks for your tweet.
I’ve taken my children to their weekly swim lesson tonight and got handed a letter from the Instructor with very disappointing news. I don’t know if you are aware but swim classes take place pretty much every night of the week at Brownhills School, meaning that hundreds of kids will lose their lessons and I think us parents might struggle to find capacity elsewhere.
Would appreciate any help or support with this.
We live in an area with a huge amount of open water – from the canals to Chasewater to Ryders Mere, it’s vital that kids learn to swim for their own safety and fitness. I therefore find this situation quite concerning.
Brownhills School have issued the following letter:
Dear Mr. Wildman,
Closure of Community Facilities
At a Governor’s meeting on January 16th 2014 a financial review of community provision was presented to Governor’s(sic). This showed that community use was unsustainable as it is not making enough income to cover outgoings. School budgets cannot be used to subsidise community use and therefore Governor’s(sic) have taken the very difficult decision to end community provision from March 31st 2014. There will be no community provision from Easter 2014 onwards.
I am writing to inform you of that decision so that you can try to find alternative facilities for your club/activity/user group. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, however the economic downturn has impacted heavily on income and we have no alternative.
Chair of Governors
Aqualympic Swim School, whose classes Susan’s children attend, also issued the following letter (the photo Susan sent of this was a little too poor to use, so I transcribed it):
Aqualympic Swim Schools
Many of you may have heard the bad news recently regarding the future of Brownhills Pool.
The Governors have made the decision, following a financial review of Community provision that the pool is unsustainable as it is not making enough income to cover outgoings and the school will no longer cover the pool costs.
I personally find the decision extremely bizarre and very disappointing, as the pool will remain to be in operation during the school day, therefore heating, electric, staffing etc. will still be paid by the school, however, community users like myself, who pay competitive hourly rates for the pool are being axed?
I have been in contact with Helen Keenan by email regards this matter and her reply was, and I quote, ‘The Governors decision is final!’
I have been operating sim lessons out of Brownhills Community School since the 1996 (one of my first pools) so this decision to close the pool from March 31st 2014 has obviously come as a complete shock to me.
Since receiving the letter (enclosed) on Saturday, 24th January 2014 I have so far written to the following people:
Keith Parr, Chair of Governors
Richard Shepherd, MP for Aldridge & Brownhills
Mr. Wildman also notes that at the time of writing, he’s tried to contact all three Brownhills Councillors, and was still awaiting a reply – they may well have done so since. He states he will keep pressing them for assistance, which would of course, be welcome.
Such community facilities are the lifeblood of our town – providing physical exercise, companionship and engaging activities. For Brownhills to lose the wide range available at the normally excellent Brownhills School would be a crying shame, and I implore anyone who shares our concern to contact the school and their Councillors.
I understand times are tough, but this seems very shortsighted indeed, and I do hope a resolution can be achieved.