Fate of pool debated in full council after petition to save it reaches over 4,400 signatures
A consultation over the much-loved Jubilee Pool in Knowle will be extended for a month until 8 November – following a lengthy and emotional debate at full council this week.
But the pool will not be re-opened during the consultation period – despite calls by opposition parties to do so.
Jules Laming of Save Jubilee Pool who started the petition in August spoke at the full council meeting on Tuesday (8 September), with the matter having to be debated as the petition had exceeded the 3,500 signatures needed by nearly 1,000.
This is the third time the pool’s supporters have had to fight for its survival – winning a battle in 2017 after huge community support.
This year on August 22, residents once again turned out to demonstrate or did so online – posting pictures to Facebook to show the strength of their feeling.
Ms Laming told the meeting: “…We’re angry that we’re here again to fight for a much-loved community facility which has been dealt an injustice by a Mayor and council that seems intent on its closure and is not listening to its citizens.
“Our message today is simple: We need Jubilee, we want Jubilee, re-open Jubilee Pool…”
‘… part of the beating heart of this community for 83 years’
She argued that the heritage pool which has been “part of the beating heart of this community for 83 years” was well-used by five schools, more than 11 clubs, three disabled organisations – and residents from numerous care homes.
It also ticked all the boxes for sustainability and was easily accessible by foot, bicycle, car and a number of bus routes.
It was complementary to Hengrove with its smaller size and warmer waters and was specifically recommended by the NHS Central Bristol Chronic Pain Clinic – as well as being a designated dementia pool. It was also cheaper than Hengrove for residents.
She added “…A single pool the size of Jubilee generates 7.2 m social value in community savings – that’s improved health savings, increased educational attainment, reduced crime and improved life satisfaction. It saves the NHS and social care system more than 1.2m annually…”
And she ended by asking the council to provide Parkwood Leisure “with the subsidy they need to continue operating it and honour the existing contract”.
‘There is no political advantage for the administration in closing any public service…’ Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said they would be “more than happy to work with people to find a solution.”
He said: “There is no political advantage for the administration in closing any public service, certainly a pool with such strength of feeling – but what we have are dire financial circumstances that we face and a pool in which the operator has come back to us and said the finances are not stacking up…
“You noted for a period that the pool did make a profit but that was based on a council subsidy as well, but recently that’s not the case.
“… There is a short term problem caused by Covid but there’s also a longer term problem which is based on… a lack of demand at Jubilee Pool and the work required to make it sustainable. “
He said Jubilee Pool was the least attended of all the council’s pools – with Hengrove having six times more swimmers.
The council had financial commitments for all its pools while attendance was down during the health pandemic and while it rebuilt public support.
And Mr Rees said in 2010 when the contract for Hengrove was signed it had set off “a chain of financial reactions that surround Jubilee”, including the closure of Bishopsworth Pool.
Motion: Save Jubilee Pool
A motion put forward by Cllr Graham Morris (Con): Save Jubilee Pool – which included asking the Mayor to allocate the necessary funding for it to continue to operate in a “Covid secure way” – was amended by the Labour Party – and this amendment passed by 32 votes to 30.
Councillors from the Conservative, Lib Dem and Green parties spoke passionately and often angrily about the need to protect this “vital community asset.”
The amended motion means the pool will remain closed during the consultation period but the council will “establish a cross party group to look at potential solutions” and “continue to work to assess options” on how to “honour the agreement” made with Parkwood.
The council will also lobby national government to follow through with their original promise to compensate councils for the impact of Covid-19.
They will also ask for government support for particularly affected industries, including the leisure sector, “to support Jubilee Pool and countless other swimming pools in similar situations.”
View the full council meeting debate on the pool here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xhd5n-ttx3w&feature=youtu.be&t=3124
To take part in the consultation for Jubilee Pool visit: https://bristol.citizenspace.com/public-health/jubilee-pool/
The petition to Save Jubilee Pool is here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-jubilee-pool
Facebook Save Jubilee Pool.