Update from our meeting with Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol below but PLEASE, PLEASE filll in the consultation, it's super important.
The Friends of Jubilee Pool had a meeting with the Mayor, his advisors and Council officers on the 20th October 2020. We have spent the subsequent period waiting for the initial recommendatoins from the Cross Party Working Group set up by the Mayor and ensuring that our leaflets reach as many people as possible (thank you to all who volunteered to help with delivery, great work!). Now its up to you all to fill it in and make your voices heard louder, the pool is going to need it.
Clearly our message about opening the pool as soon as possible is not getting through as we were informed that the pool would remain closed at least until the results of the consultation have been reviewed and presented before cabinet on the 19th January 2021. We were also not given an answer on whether the pool would be opened during the process of Community Asset Transfer (a process likely to take at least 12 months or more).
More importantly it was made clear to us that the only reason Jubilee is closed (up for permanent closure) is the Council need Jubilee Pool members to transfer to Hengrove. As you can imagine this admission left us feeling incredibly angry given all the messaging pushed by the Council and Mayor claiming that Jubilee Pool was unviable and underused (we have not seen any evidence of this from officers). The reality is Jubilee Pool is doing what it was built to do very well, servicing the health and well-being needs of its community.
"Jubilee Pool is a Pool for the Past, the Present and the Future"
The Council's strategy is to service its citizens physical and well-being needs by requiring them to get in their cars to drive across the city to one specific facility. We all know this is not sustainable. Mayor Marvin Rees, recently awarded politician of the year at the Business Green Leaders Awards, should be extoling the virtues of Jubilee Pool as it was made clear to us that the vast majority of Jubilee Pool users walk or cycle to the facility. This is something other cities are striving to achieve and our Council is considering throwing it away !
Really the consultation should be renamed "Consultation on the future of Hengrove Pool" with the closure of Jubilee, seemingly, the only option they have looked at to reduce the losses/increase the profitability of Hengrove.
Hengrove is still costing the Council money and the transfer of a high portion of Jubilee Members would certainly reduce that cost and indeed is predictated to turn a profit for the Council. The Council's argument is that the closure of Jubilee was in the feasability figures for the PFI deal to create Hengrove.
We all know that Jubilee exists because it provides both similar and very different services to the community than Hengrove and that it was saved from closure (twice before) because of the need for both types of facility. It is disgraceful and very short sighted of the Council to look for a quick "easy" win by intimating that the only way to save Hengrove is for the original plan to be executed i.e. the closure of Jubilee Pool. They also indicated that under their current Leisure review, Bristol South is not likely to reopen. It is therefore crazy that we will be in a position where South Bristol has only one swimming pool for +143,000 residents should both Jubilee Pool and Bristol South not reopen.
There is a lot of housing developments planned around the Hengrove area which would almost certainly provide the additional income necessary to make Hengrove viable. The current Core Strategy requires 10,200 new homes and the Local Plan Review has allocated a further 11,000. So that's 21,200 new families moving into South Bristol. We can forsee a scenario that in the relatively short term another swimming pool might be required to be built.
What a waste of time and money when the proposal is to close a perfectly viable, much loved exisiting pool. Sure Jubilee Pool needs some investment to cover the period of neglected maintainance activities over the last few years but this is going to cost a lot, lot less than the creation of a new facility down the line.
OK, so to summarise Jubilee Pool is closed because the council need the membership to transfer to Hengrove.
We know it's hard, as like you we have also been looking forward, throughout the lockdown period, to the day the pool reopened and we could go for a well deserved swim, but please do not transfer your membership to Hengrove. This is a pre-meditated attempt to force people to go to Hengrove, using COVID-19 as a reason to keep Jubilee closed.
The Mayor has offered the community a Community Asset Transfer and we wholeheartedly welcome this. He has to go further however and pay the small subsidy to the current operator to get the pool open whilst this long process runs its course. It is however worth pointing out that council officers at the meeting stated that a CAT, another provider or any other option for keeping Jubilee Pool open was not feasible as the purpose of this whole excercise is to close the pool and increase the revenues to save Hengrove.
We will continue to fight for the reopening of Jubilee Pool and we will work towards a CAT to ensure the transfer of our Pool to a community that treasures and values it.