The Friends of Carlisle Victorian and Turkish Baths fear 2022 could be the year that they close for good.

When the new swimming pools open at The Sands Centre in September, Greenwich Leisure's contract to operate the Baths will end, and the City Council has yet to start the search for a new operator.

With elections for the new unitary authority taking place in May, the Friends Group believe time is running out for Councillors to agree a contract to operate the Turkish Baths.

Chair of Friends Group, Julie Minns said: "It's been twelve months since the City Council commissioned a feasibility study on the future of the Baths and it's still not been completed. It's clear to us that the City Council will leave the decision on the long-term future of the Baths to the new authority, but it won't be fully operational until 2023 and no one seems to know if, or how, the Baths will operate."

“The Friends have written to Councillor Stephen Higgs, Portfolio Holder for Culture, Heritage and Leisure, asking him to confirm when the process to appoint an operator for the Baths will commence. Their letter warns that unless Councillor Higgs acts ahead of the May elections, the Council will - by default - have decided to close the Turkish Baths.

"Councillor Higgs and John Mallinson told us that the best way to keep the Baths open was for more people to use them. Monthly usage is up by 56% since reopening in July."

Cllr Higgs responded: “The Victorian Health Suite is an important part of Carlisle’s heritage and we continue to explore the best ways to manage the facility after The Pools relocate to The Sands Centre. A tender process is not possible at this stage as work is continuing finalising the plans for the Station Gateway development which includes The Pools site. The City Council and Cumbria County Council are currently looking at options for the refurbishment and a feasibility study is currently in production.

“The Carlisle Station Gateway and Citadels project will regenerate the area around Carlisle Station and the Victorian Health Suite forms an integral part of the scheme.”