The facilities at the Porchester Hall are a great local community asset. The Bayswater Labour Action Team want to ensure that they are well maintained on a day-to-day basis and as required, periodically sensitively refurbished.
However, not only does refurbishment have to be faithful to the heritage of the buildings, but it has to be devised in close co-operation with the local community and the established users of the facilities.
Over a number of months now the Council and their latest contractor have been sharing plans that have been drawn up without the involvement of the community and the users - plans that fundamentally change the facilities on offer.
The Labour Action Team have heard a range of concerns which include:
- Poor (and continually deteriorating) overall day-to-day management of the facilities, with frequent closures of the small pool, cleanliness throughout and the failure to do simple repairs (or replacements) of equipment.
- Lack of involvement in the initial plans for change, resulting in a set of proposals which many people feel are unsatisfactory on a number of levels;
- Adding modern fittings which are not in keeping with the heritage features across the facilities;
- A lack of focus on essential restoration of many of the unique features of the facility in favour of creating new treatment rooms and concession areas which will allow the Contractor to sell premium services;
- Removal of areas which are currently used for social interaction;
- Insensitive handling of issues, amongst which is increasing the number of mixed gender sessions, which have implications for the cultural diversity of users that currently enjoy these facilities, despite vocal opposition.
In response to a complaint about the cleanliness and maintenance from one local resident, a Council officer recently admitted that “the team are failing to deliver the standard which is expected”.
We continue to urge the Council to engage in more community involvement in the suite of re-development projects at the Porchester. The Spa users in particular have been very actively petitioning: http://tiny.cc/Porchester
It’s time we had a local Council that listens and works with our community to make the area and its landmarks a better place in the future and for the next generation.