Knowle turns out to protect its swimming pool

Published on: 24 Feb 2017

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Swimmers rally to fight second threat to pool in 5 years

MORE than 100 people turned out to a hastily-arranged demonstration on February 18 to support Knowle’s Jubilee swimming pool, threatened with closure by council cutbacks.

Residents are adamant that the pool is vital to the health and wellbeing of many in the community.

Shutting the pool would save Bristol city council £62,000 a year – the subsidy it gives to operator Parkwood Leisure.

But the sum is a drop in the ocean next to the £101 million the council must save over the next five years. 

Knowle Lib Dem councillors Gary Hopkins and Christopher Davies are confident that the pool can be saved – if there is the political will to do it. With a rapidly-formed Friends of Jubilee Pool, they have started a petition – already with several hundred signatures. 

“The pool has been successful over the last five years but this sudden shock creates the danger of closure. We would urge local people to rally round and support our pool to give confidence to the operators,” said Cllr Hopkins.

Once the petition hits 3,500 signatures, the matter will be debated at a full council meeting.

The pool is popular with families, especially those in Knowle, Brislington and nearby.

The Jubilee pool is kept three degrees C warmer than the  Hengrove pool, which is used for competitions. Jubilee is also quieter and families seem to prefer its more intimate atmosphere.

Cllr Hopkins hopes to repeat the success of the Lib Dem campaign to save the 51 bus route last year. Operator First said it was uneconomic, and the council announced its closure, until Cllr Hopkins persuaded rival bus firm Wessex to take on the route.

It’s believed Parkwood would be prepared to accept a lower subsidy than £62,000. If more users could be attracted to the Jubilee pool and gym, and perhaps charges are increased slightly, the gap could be narrowed further, Cllr Hopkins said. 

Those opposed to the closure are angry that there was no consultation – either with users of the pool or with councillors.

There is confusion over whether the council really wants to close the pool – closure is mentioned on at least one agenda – or just to axe the subsidy. 

Ironically, the proposal comes in the year Bristol became a European City of Sport.

The Voice asked several of the protesters at the pool whether they would be prepared to pay a higher entrance fee to save the facility. All said they would.

A council statement hinted that the pool could be saved if it can be made to pay for itself.

A council spokesperson said: “The council is reviewing the Jubilee swimming pool subsidy and is working with Parkwood Leisure to explore options for operating the facility without this money. At present the proposal is to cease this subsidy when the contract ends in September 2017. We remain committed to promoting active lifestyles across the city and this will play a major part of our discussions with Parkwood.”

Also joining the protest was Cllr Jos Clark, a Lib Dem
councillor for Brislington. “This is a community resource,” she said. “Though it’s in Knowle, a lot of people use it from the surrounding area on a regular basis.

“If we lose this they are going to have to get on a bus and got to Hengrove, which for some people is too much of a stretch.

“I think people would be prepare to pay a bit more if it’s a question of keeping it open.”

• Facebook: @savejubilee

and Friends of Jubilee PoolProtesters make their views clear at the Jubilee pool

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