CARLISLE’S former Labour MP, Eric Martlew, thinks a new hotel next to the Turkish Baths on James Street would help preserve them for years to come.

Mr Martlew says the Turkish Baths are not part of the station gateway plan and must be preserved for the future.

He fought to have them listed in 2010.

Mr Martlew said: “I think a new hotel on the former Staples site would be a good idea. Customers could use the spa facilities at the Turkish Baths. That’s what people want nowadays – hotels with spas.”

Mr Martlew has submitted his idea to a consultation which has opened for the station and surrounding area.

He said: “We have some of the finest spa facilities in the country. Harrogate has just received some cash to upgrade their facilities.

“I’ve had people stop me in the street concerned about the future of the Turkish Baths. The baths cannot be demolished as they are listed and so I think something should be done with them.”

The Turkish Health Suite, which is decorated with ornate columns and green, blue and yellow tiling, was awarded Grade II listed status by English Heritage in 2010.

Inspectors said the inside of the building was impressive, reporting that the centrepiece of the suite, the cold room, remained essentially unchanged since its construction.

John Mallinson, leader of Carlisle City Council, welcomed Mr Martlew’s input and idea.

He said: “Mr Martlew is correct. The Turkish Baths are not part of the station gateway project.

“If Mr Martlew has some ideas for the project then we will consider them.

“There are a lot of innovative ideas coming up and we welcome suggestions from anyone.

“We are trying to think out of the box and use this opportunity to revamp our city centre and the Citadel buildings.”

The £15m station gateway project will help transform the railway station and the area around it and make it a prestigious capital for the Borderlands Region.

There are hopes the traffic congestion which has dogged the area will be banished, with new parking facilities created nearby.

The scheme is part of a larger vision for an impressive city “Gateway”, with a second phase of development planned for the nearby Citadel area.

But Cumbria County Council says it is vital that local residents and businesses have their say and get involved.

The public consultation exhibition will be at Carlisle Railway Station until Wednesday – people can find out more at the county council’s website,

After assessing public reaction, officials will draw up more detailed proposals, which will be submitted to the Government for approval.