Bristol gym and swimming pool set to close unless new owners found

Kingsdown Sports Centre may be closed down permanently by Bristol City Council to save money for other facilities
Kingsdown Sports Centre may be closed down permanently by Bristol City Council to save money for other facilities. Credit: LDRS

A gym and swimming pool in Bristol will be permanently shut down unless a new owner steps in and offers to run the sports centre instead.

Proposals have been made by Bristol City Council to close Kingsdown Sports Centre in Portland Street as part of a ‘leisure investment strategy’.

The strategy involves withdrawing funding for the gym along with Jubilee Pool in Knowle so that money can be re-invested in three of the council’s nine sports facilities, according to a report.

A cabinet meeting on 21 September will rubber-stamp the closure of the facilities after which a public consultation can take place.

The report says: “Kingsdown Sports Centre is attracting few new members and is not retaining members in a very competitive environment.

"As a dry side facility, it requires an annual revenue subsidy and due to its immediate demographic profile and geographical location, contributes less towards the council’s strategic outcomes for sport and physical activity."

Jubilee Swimming Pool is also threatened by the council's proposals Credit: ITV West Country

The council pays private providers to run both facilities, and those contracts end in March next year.

Its plans to permanently close the pool caused a public outcry when they were first released last summer, so the council said it would decide its long-term fate after a public consultation on its then emerging strategy on leisure facilities.

An early version of the strategy approved by cabinet in March this year gave no indication of what could happen to Kingsdown Sports Centre in Portland Street.

The report sets out several reasons for the proposal, including the proximity of the gym to Bristol University’s new sports centre and the fact it would save the council money to close it.

The report adds that both the gym and the pool could be saved by any private business or community group willing to take ownership and responsibility for running either facility if the council withdraws funding.

It said: "For those facilities which we propose to stop operating we are open to the possibility of transferring them to another commercial operator at zero cost to the council or to be run by the community, known as Community Asset Transfer (CAT).

"If this does not happen these facilities will close."

Community group Friends of Jubilee Pool have already submitted a CAT request to the council to transfer the ownership and management of the pool to the group, according to Liberal Democrat councillor Gary Hopkins.

The public consultation will ask residents to pick from three options for investing more money in three of the city’s leisure centres.

All three options – an upgrade of Easton Leisure Centre, extension of Horfield Leisure Centre, and basic refurbishment of Bristol South Pool – would involve the council stopping the operation of Jubilee Swimming Pool and Kingsdown Sports Centre.

"On the basis that the council cannot afford all three investment options, the consultation will ask the public to prioritise where they think investment should be made,” the report says.

A report on the results of the consultation and officers’ final recommendations will come before cabinet in February next year, according to the report.

New leisure centre management arrangements are expected to be in place by April 2023.

Credit: Amanda Cameron (Local Reporting Democracy Service)