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Droitwich MP Peter Luff has pledged his full support for Wychavon Council’s efforts to develop a new brine facility in the town following the closure of the existing baths.
In a letter to Cllr Paul Middlebrough, Leader of Wychavon District Council, Peter criticises the lack of imagination in the marketing of the baths by BMI Healthcare which he says led to the under use of the facilities. He also urges local groups in the town to feed in to the taskforce set up to examine a way forward. He also cautions against false hopes of European funding being available – a route already explored by the council.

Commenting, Peter said,

“The brine baths must not become a political football. We are all on the same side on this question and the town must stand together to find the way forward. I still think something bigger and better than we had before could emerge from the process and I pledge my full support for any initiative that will help to achieve that.

The full text of Peter’s letter to Councillor Middlebrough reads:

“You know how concerned I am about the future of Droitwich’s brine spa heritage following the closure of the facilities associated with the town’s private hospital.

“I am greatly encouraged by the meticulous way in which Wychavon council is pursuing the opportunities to recreate and even enhance the town’s brine facilities. I welcome the success of the tough negotiations with the BMI Healthcare, who ran the baths, which led to a significant capital sum being available for this purpose. The establishment a taskforce of representative organisations to look at the future provision of facilities associated with the town’s brine heritage was the appropriate next step – and the money from BMI Healthcare should really help the taskforce keep the ‘Spa’ in Droitwich Spa, as you rightly put it.

“This taskforce represents both local people, through the elected town council, and members of the business community, and I welcome that inclusiveness of approach. In Councillor Tom McDonald you have an effective and determined chairman which can only help.

“But it is not just the membership of the group that determines its inclusiveness – it is also its openness to ideas from outside that matters. I appreciate the reassurances you have give me that the taskforce will welcome all inputs, from individuals or groups. There is an absolute commonality of interest across the town to achieve the best possible outcome for Droitwich Spa, and that is as it should be. Put simply, you have confirmed to me that you don’t have to be a member of the taskforce to have your say in what happens next.

“I understand the council has already looked at the possible use of European Union funding and established this is not feasible. I am grateful for your confirmation that Philip Bradbourn MEP, at your request, had already examined this and reluctantly concluded that there is no EU money available for this type of facility. The only way which funding could be obtained is if Droitwich was in a so-called “Objective 2” area under the European Regional Development Fund - but the town simply does not qualify on these grounds. Had it qualified, funding may have been available on grounds of economic regeneration, but this avenue is closed. This is disappointing, but it is a reality we have to contend with.

“However, there are many other sources of UK funding, ranging from charitable funds, through statutory organisations to the private sector.

“I am convinced that, although BMI Healthcare cited electrical and mechanical problems in the building as the reason for closure, the underlying cause was their compete failure to promote and market this unique facility energetically enough, and so not to generate the revenues they should have from it.

“Droitwich’s brine baths should have been at least a major regional attraction, if not a national one, but as it was most residents of Worcestershire would probably have been unaware of the facility.

“I encourage the council to work closely with new private sector organisations - with the advanatge of the capital available from BMI - to recreate an even better brine experience than the one we have lost. I pledge my total support to any campaign, event or initiative that you take to rebuild a brighter, bigger and better facility in the town.

“It will not be easy at this time of both continued reluctance by the banks to lend and tough controls on public expenditure, but I am sure with some imagination and flair, Droitwich can show BMI Healthcare just how short-sighted their decision to close the facility was.

“We must work together to keep the Spa in Droitwich Spa and I commend the determination Wychavon is showing to do precisely that.”


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