The fate of activists eager to save Jubilee Pool

A community group scrambling to save a precious swimming pool under imminent threat of closure has revealed the monumental practical challenge and emotional toll of its business.

Friends of Jubilee Pool, a group of volunteers determined to save the recreation facility, hope to undertake the facility as a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) to keep it from being permanently closed.

But the group deplores the “extremely short schedule” which leaves them “no time to stop” established by the Bristol City Council.

In addition to the bureaucratic hurdles, Friends of Jubilee Pool says the process of community ownership of the pool is emotionally expensive, calling their campaign “incredibly long and exhausting.”

Jubilee Pool in Knowle is threatened with closure – photo courtesy of Bristol City Council

The deadlines require the confirmation of a privileged operator before February 16 and the submission of a detailed business plan by March 31.

When contracts with private facility provider Parkwood Leisure expire in March, the council’s “leisure investment strategy” will see funding for the Jubilee Pool withdrawn.

Despite this, the group is “chasing after the board” for an extension of Parkwood’s contract to operate the pool beyond March. The group suggests that the board deliberately “delay”.

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Read more: “Jubilee has been part of the beating heart of South Bristol for 83 years”

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“Managing the campaign to save Jubilee Pool and moving forward with our desire to secure a long term sustainable future for Jubilee Pool is actually a full time job for all of us,” they explained.

“The Friends of Jubilee Pool management group gives all of their time for free and manages this alongside our own full-time jobs and businesses, volunteer work and family commitments.

“We are all professionals in our fields, but the majority of us have no experience running a recreation center. “

Jubilee Pool has avoided permanent closure on several occasions – photo courtesy of Save Jubilee Pool

For the management company, producing the “expression of interest” to bid for the CAT itself was a “huge learning curve”.

The challenges include “setting up a formal business, finding and finding the right people to help us with a range of issues to getting advice on the right business structures, financial advice, construction surveys, fundraising, increasing our links with other community organizations in South Bristol and ongoing support and guidance ”.

Recent figures released by Swim England reveal that swimming pools are at risk of being wiped out from communities across the country. The national governing body warns that, without urgent action, up to 2,000 municipal swimming pools could be lost within a decade.

As part of an ongoing effort to keep the pool open for the community of Knowle, the group is hosting a 24-hour sponsored non-stop swim at the end of January.

They said its aim was to “raise awareness of the need to secure the future of the pool and raise funds for the cost of the work and the professional help that will be needed to produce a detailed business plan if we are confirmed as the preferred operator ”.

The group revealed that all costs associated so far with the campaign to keep the Jubilee Pool open after the coronavirus, respond to the various consultation processes and associated publicity have come out of their own pockets.

Despite their struggles, Friends of Jubilee Pool said their campaign was “also one of the most rewarding things to get involved in.”

They said: “If we can secure the long term future of Jubilee Pool, then it will all be worth it.”

To get involved in fundraising efforts, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/24-hour-sponsored-swim-for-jubilee-pool-tickets-229761572047

Main photo by Ellie Pipe

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