19th Sep, 2020

Councillor campaigns to help Hollymoor Centre secure its long-term future amidst £450k boiler repair bill

Tristan Harris 22nd Jul, 2020 Updated: 23rd Jul, 2020

A COUNCILLOR is calling on Birmingham City Council to find a sensible solution to secure the long-term future of Northfield’s Hollymoor Centre after a quote to repair the building’s boiler came back at a staggering £450,000.

Coun Simon Morrall wants the centre back where it belongs at the heart of the community and asked the venue’s management team to get three separate repair quotes from the private sector last year.

They ranged from £60,000 to £90,000 when they came back but when the council stepped in to check prices with its ‘preferred suppliers list’, the one returned was almost half-a-million pounds.

The councillor for Frankley and Great Park said the centre had been underutilised for years because of the broken boiler, criticising the council for ‘dragging its feet over the repairs’.

He challenged leader Coun Ian Ward asking if he thought £450k was ‘good value for money’.

Coun Ward said: “I share some of the frustrations of Coun Morrall, I’ve asked officers to look into this situation with some urgency to bring forward a proposal that will represent, value for money for the taxpayer.”

Coun Morrall has vowed to keep up the fight for the centre and in the past few weeks has been working with it on a post-Covid-19 recovery plan.

“Last year I managed to negotiate an agreement for a long-term lease for the building, giving Hollymoor more clout when applying for third party funding.

“We have a serious business plan, working with multiple charities, from food banks, to school uniforms providers and digital inclusion.

“Last month on the Economy and Skills Overview and Scrutiny committee, both the leader and the cabinet member for Education, Skills and culture agreed with me, that the council needed to support the third sector more in regard to pushing this project – well here is their opportunity to do just that.”

Coun Morrall added the council should provide Hollymoor with a loan to help cover costs and said it had the potential to be a real asset for the community.

“We want to turn it into a local historic landmark, and become a local lifeline, for the whole community to use.”

Hollymoor opened as a psychiatric hospital in 1905 by the then Lord Mayor, served as a military hospital during both world wars.

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