Rescue mission

Group to attend Carlisle council meeting during Turkish Baths rescue mission

A LAST attempt to save historic Carlisle Baths will take place at a council meeting next week; it will be the last opportunity for the authority to save the facility from closure before its finances are taken over by the new Cumberland Council.

Members of the Friends of Turkish Baths group will travel to the Civic Center on Tuesday, April 26 for the last full council meeting before the May 5 elections.

The election will name the members of the new Cumberland council.

Although it will serve alongside Carlisle City Council as a ‘shadow authority’ for a year, it will take control of the existing council’s budget after the election and take full control in April 2023.

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The campaign group say this is their last chance to urge Carlisle City Council to save the baths.

Julie Minns, leader of the campaign group, said: ‘This is the last council meeting before the new authority is elected, which is why we are very keen to make our representations at this meeting.’

The group has campaigned for the continuation of the Carlisle Turkish Health Suite since it was revealed the heritage asset was at risk.

Carlisle’s swimming offering and its operator GLL’s staff will be moved to the Sands Center once its redevelopment is complete.

The 1970s swimming pool building will be demolished at this time, forcing the closure of the adjacent Turkish baths – which is the only such facility in the North West.

Friends of the Turkish Baths have called on councilors to turn over ownership of the baths to the public so they can embark on an ambitious restoration, repurposing the nearby 20-metre swimming pool and powering the health suite with renewable energy.

Ms Minns said: ‘This is the last meeting of the City Council to give its response unhindered by the Shadow Authority.

“There are two requests we have, one is long term, we know it will be taken by Cumberland; that’s what happens at the James Street Baths.

“There is a short term [decision] Carlisle Council can do, and that is agree to keep the Turkish baths open for as long as possible until the 1970s pool begins.

“The baths have become a bit of a totem of people’s frustration with what has been lost over the last 10 years in Carlisle, a lot of little gem buildings.”

Councilor Stephen Higgs, who holds the Culture, Heritage and Leisure portfolio at City Council, said: “We will certainly be interested to hear what they have to say. I think what they want is for us to tender for an operator after GLL, but unfortunately we are still unable to do so.

Cllr Higgs said the council cannot make a decision on this until more details are given of the redevelopment of Carlisle station led by the County of Cumbria and the creation of a new car park off the coast of James Street to make it easier.

READ MORE: Carlisle City Council members hear GLL plans to recover from Covid-19

“We still don’t have full details of what this will encompass,” he continued. “When will it start, how long will it take, the disruption of electricity and heat from the Turkish baths.”

The campaign group is urging concerned members of the public to attend the meeting at the Civic Center at 6.45pm next Tuesday.