A much-loved swimming pool in Knowle faces permanent closure just three years after a successful community campaign to save it.
Bristol City Council has announced the launch of a consultation over the proposals to shut Jubilee Pool, blaming the additional challenges posed by Covid-19 and mounting costs of running the premises, which first opened in 1937.
The public pool on Jubilee Road was saved from possible closure in 2017, and previously in 2013, with campaigners arguing such a move would severely impact swimming accessibility for many in the area, including some of the most deprived.
Parkwood Leisure, which runs the facility on behalf of the council, is said to have assessed all options before determining the pool has “no long-term viable option for operating cost effectively”, although Gary Hopkins, a Lib Dem councillor for Knowle, disputes this.
Hopkins told Bristol24/7 the information provided by the council is “partial and incomplete”, saying: “They know what the response from the community will be so they are trying to make it look like a fait accompli.
“The operators are prepared to carry on at Jubilee and the pool pre-Covid was running at a profit.”
He pointed out the level of support for the facility among the local community, adding: “This will be the third time we have had to save the pool. We clearly won the first two and the mayor will pay a heavy price if he fails to back down this time.”
The council has stated that due to the size and age of the building, a minimum of £260,000 was already needed to allow it to function and prevent further deterioration, plus the additional amount needed to make Covid-secure adaptions.
Asher Craig, Labour’s cabinet member for communities, equalities and public health, said: “The council has committed to better connect people to accessible and affordable leisure facilities so they can be active and lead healthier lives. This commitment has seen us invest heavily in south Bristol facilities including Hengrove Leisure Centre.
“As part of our strategy we must carefully balance the needs of the whole community with the costs to taxpayers and ensure we invest in sustainable and higher quality swimming facilities. With council funding stretched like never before, and having considered a number of alternatives, we believe that the closure of Jubilee Pool is the best option, ensuring that users are aware of the facilities available to them at nearby Hengrove and Bristol South.
“This consultation is important so we can better understand how people feel about the proposed closure, and what is needed to mitigate any impact it will have on people’s lives if the closure goes ahead.”
Opposition is already mounting to the proposed closure, with a rally planned in front of Jubilee Pool on August 22.
The consultation will run until Wednesday, October 7. While most public swimming pools in the city are due to reopen on August 20, Jubilee will remain closed during the consultation period. Members will be able to use the facilities at Hengrove Leisure Centre.
Respond to the consultation via www.bristol.gov.uk/jubileepool.
Main photo by CB Bristol Design/Bristol City Council
Read more: ‘Jubilee Swimming Pool will remain open’