Castle Pool, a public swimming pool in East Birmingham, has been under threat of closure for five years due to financial pressures at Birmingham City Council. During this time the Castle Pool Users Group, a community led group including Boldmere and Kingsbury swimming clubs, has successfully campaigned to keep the pool open despite mounting council cuts.
We had worked with DISE on the asset transfer of Castle Vale Library which was successfully brought into community ownership, so when the opportunity to bid for Castle Pool presented itself, we had no hesitation in approaching DISE to support us with this important project for our area.” Judy Tullett, Trustee, Castle Pool Community Partnership.
Building on structural surveys and feasibility work previously undertaken by the Castle Vale Neighbourhood Group, DISE focused on how the facilities could be better utilized for community sports and recreational activities whilst generating income to achieve financial sustainability.
“To secure community buy-in and make it stack up financially, DISE helped us explore new operating models, options for staffing, legal structures and governance and suggested we seek specialist advice on insurance and other aquatic requirements.
A detailed market analysis of the area and the types of activities that would appeal to residents who don’t currently use the centre proved very useful in shaping our thinking. DISE consulted partners throughout the whole process and liaised with council directorates, legal services and accountants to develop a strong business proposal.”
The legal formalities to conclude the asset transfer took place in January 2015. Castle Pool is now managed by Castle Pool Community Partnership under a long term lease of 25 years. “We are the proud owners of a lovely pool which is regularly used by swimming clubs and 19 primary schools, providing us with a steady income.
“There’s a large room overlooking the pool with enormous potential for non-water activities such as fitness classes and family parties. The centre will be run by volunteers and sessional staff but we also hope to offer apprenticeships and many other new pathways for people to get involved in community sports.
“This is the first time a swimming pool in Birmingham has undergone asset transfer; it’s a very exciting time for us all,” says Judy.