Big changes are coming to the nine Council-owned leisure centres and swimming pools across Bristol, according to a proposal put forward by the Council. It is part of a consultation on changing investment in leisure facilities.
Most importantly for people in my constituency of Bristol West, the Council will stop operating Kingsdown Sports Centre, according to the proposal. If this happens, and no other operators can be found, the Sports Centre will close.
Several constituents have contacted me about this change. I’m passing their concerns on to the council (see my letter below). I believe the points they raise should be carefully considered. It would be sad to lose this facility if it can be maintained cost-effectively.
I’m encouraging all my constituents to give feedback on the Council’s Leisure Facilities Investment Consultation. It closes on Sunday 7 November. The council’s proposal is to keep seven of the nine sites it owns, make improvements at three (including Horfield and Easton) and to stop operating two facilities.
My letter to the Council
Councillor Asher Craig
PO Box 3399
24 September 2021
RE: Possible closure of Kingsdown Sports Centre
I am writing to pass on constituents’ concerns regarding the Council’s proposal to stop operating Kingsdown Sports Centre. I am aware of the financial pressures on Bristol City Council and understand the need to make difficult decisions. However, please consider the following points, as several local people have made compelling arguments for the continued operation of this facility.
As I’m sure you’re aware, Kingsdown Sports Centre is the only public leisure centre in the South West with five badminton courts, and the only one in Bristol with three squash courts, making it an important resource for local sports clubs.
While the consultation suggests that these activities can go elsewhere, including to nearby university facilities, several constituents have raised concerns that non-students will only be able to access these buildings outside university term time.
Moreover, while some may argue that Kingsdown is an affluent area, with residents that can use private gyms and sports clubs, the Sports Centre serves an area with significant pockets of deprivation. For many people in the inner city, leisure centres such as Kingsdown are the only way they can access sport.
Several constituents have also made the important point that we should be doing everything possible to encourage healthy activities, at a time when many of us have spent the best part of 18 months sitting at home in front of a screen.
Such public health benefits may be hard to measure, but I hope you will take them into account. For example, I understand that Kingsdown Sports Centre is used for rehabilitation activities with patients from the Bristol Royal Infirmary. This is obviously hugely beneficial, especially considering the convenient location, though may not be captured in an analysis of usage alone.
In conclusion, I would like to ask the following questions:
- What consideration has been made of measures to increase use of Kingsdown Sports Centre, including better signage, advertising and adaptation of the existing facilities?
- If the consultation does find significant interest in continuing to operate this site, will you change your Leisure Facilities Investment Strategy accordingly?
- Can you assure my constituents that if the Council is to stop operating Kingsdown Sports Centre, the loss of needed facilities will be offset by increases in other nearby leisure centres?
- If the Council does stop operating Kingsdown, what plans are in place to ensure all local residents can access the University facilities throughout the year?
Thank you for considering my constituents’ concerns on this matter.
Please note that I plan to share this letter with my constituents.
Thangam Debbonaire, MP for Bristol West