Our message is simple – we need Jubilee Pool, we want Jubilee Pool, reopen Jubilee Pool, writes Julie Laming, a spokesperson for the Friends of Jubilee Pool.
Bristol’s Sports and Active Recreation Facility Strategy 2018-23 states that we only have a ‘technically adequate’ level of swimming provision. Without Jubilee, we will not even have this. And yet Jubilee provides a range of benefits Hengrove Leisure Centre cannot.
It ticks all the sustainability boxes. It is within walking distance of homes, schools, shops, and other social and recreational facilities. It is easily accessible without a car and has numerous bus routes within a five minute walk.
Swimming is fantastic for our health and wellbeing. It is great physical exercise, whether you’re having fun with your mates, training for challenges, swimming competitively, or just because you love it. Swimming also has a positive effect on our mental health. Something that we are all in desperate need of post lockdown.
Due to its warmer water (32 degrees), Jubilee is specifically recommended by the NHS Central Bristol Chronic Pain Clinic for their patient’s therapeutic recovery, rehab and chronic pain management. Plus it is a designated ‘dementia friendly’ pool.
Jubilee has been a part of the beating heart of south Bristol for 83 years. Jubilee’s not perfect but we swim there because we love it; because it is small, intimate and inclusive with separate gender, disabled and baby changing facilities; because we can walk and cycle to it; because our kids can go alone; because we can socialise, celebrate birthdays and have fun there; because we can exercise there; because disabled people can swim safely there; because it allows for smaller clubs, some of which require absolute privacy to operate there; because we all feel safe there; because we can recover from sexual assault trauma there; because we can soothe our broken bodies and weary minds there; because it provides school and private swimming classes; because three disabled organisations and numerous care homes swim there; because the Sea Cadets train there; and because the staff care.
We know that there is no capacity to accommodate the users of Jubilee at Hengrove. Access to children’s swimming lessons and the public swimming area are already oversubscribed. So where are we all expected to go? The reality is people will stop swimming. As they did when Filwood, Bishopsworth and Speedwell pools closed.
The council maintains this is about money. But it is about so much more. We appreciate that times are hard, but we need to invest in our health and wellbeing in order to move forward post Covid-19. Ensuring access to Jubilee is a fundamental part of this.
Gary Hopkins, the Lib Dem councillor group leader for Bristol and a councillor for Knowle focuses on the way forward for Jubilee Pool.
The first step is reopening the pool now, he writes.
Safety plans are in place and proper use of, and cooperation with the local volunteer army will guarantee success until the present contract ends in 2022. Action will need to be swift as 13 staff, currently on furlough, will either have to be put back to work or wages paid for nothing while the extended consultation grinds on.
The next 18 months should not be wasted as two longer-term alternatives of a not-for-profit trust for the pool, or a local parish council, are evaluated and possibly enacted.
Knowle ward already has great examples with The Park at Daventry Road, the Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust, on a large scale, and the Redcatch Community Garden and others demonstrating how results can be achieved that the council could not begin to match. The administration’s backing of The Park Trust has been a rare example of recent good practice for which I personally thanked the cabinet members.
A parish council to run local assets seems radical, until you realise that Bristol City Council is the only council within the former Avon area that does not have local parish councils.
Bristol City Council, as has been confirmed by its chief executive, is overdue for a community governance review and early informal public opinion gathering in Knowle has shown positive results. So, a real possibility, but neither option can be magicked up in weeks, and needs cooperation from Bristol City Council.
So what of the red herring of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal on Hengrove Pool? Well, it is true that when decided upon in 2008 the cabinet report agreed that Jubilee would close as a result, but more positive thinking in 2012 saw investment in Jubilee after the PFI deal was signed and eight years of cooperation have followed.
The present Hengrove operators have not and cannot claim on the competition clause in the PFI and Bristol City Council can ensure it is a dead duck permanently.
We offered talks before and we now hear the mayor saying he is ready to talk, so let’s get moving before it is too late to secure the short and long term of this hugely valuable community asset.
Main photo courtesy of CB Bristol Design 2020