The common unifying theme of the letters has been that they disagreed with my negative assessment, but then proceeded to either state diverging motivations for the protest or for how it should be funded.
Most of the parties have made much of the progress they’ve made in agreeing a revised pact for the development. The reality is that what has been agreed is a total capitulation by local politicians to the demands of the various pressure groups which comprised the protest. A sceptic might call the new pact “Munich II“.
The key elements of the Munich II pact are
- no residential element.
- no high rise.
- a publicly owned baths facility on the site.
- application for central Govt funding.
The last point is a real giveaway - “you can have everything you want and we’ll try to get someone else to pay for it”. Clearly this pact is highly aspirational and there is a lot of work to be done before anything can actually be implemented. Consultants will have their work cut out to come up with a viable and sustainable proposal.
A major concern must be the commitment to a publicly-owned baths without firm evidence that there is a sufficient demand to make justify it, particularly from young people.
I still believe that many of the protestors were suffering from Bewley’s Syndrome. If, as claimed by one letter writer, 99% of protestors were regular and frequent users of the baths, summer and winter, then the baths would still be open.
If the council simply re-invent the same amenity in some slightly tarted-up format, it will fail as it has in the past. The installation of slides in the early 1990’s (?) failed to revive the fortunes of the baths.