Why I’m a CAT person

As part of this week’s One Week, One Minute challenge, in sixty seconds, I shared just some of what we’ve delivered for Bristol. One such achievement has been how our administration is empowering more communities by giving them the chance to own and run their own assets, like adventure playgrounds and swimming pools.

Through Community Asset Transfers (CATs) and concessionary lettings, we are giving an annual £1.6 million hand-up to those giving a helping hand to their communities and our city. Bristol now has more than 120 sites which are let to voluntary, community, and social enterprise organisations, all at less than market value for enormous community benefit. Through discounted and ‘peppercorn’ rents, council-owned buildings and land are operated and maintained by local organisations.

Some leases date from the 1950s, while others are much newer. We always know that whenever new land or a building is made available, demand will far outstrip supply from Bristol’s incredible third sector, many of whom have been at the heart of supporting Bristolians throughout the pandemic.

While there are too many to mention in one minute or one blog, we are proud to be working with organisations ranging from scout groups and girl guides to the SS Great Britain and community centres, and I wanted to take the time to highlight a few:

Felix Road Adventure Playground continues to go from strength to strength, with a new nursery now open on site under the Eastside Community Trust. Nearby, Empire Fighting Chance boxing gym carries on punching well above its weight.

These same is true for Jubilee Hall, the home of Skemer’s Gym; and, after a judge backed the council as we work to find a new operator for Hartcliffe Community Farm, in the next month we hope to confirm the community partner who can help another south Bristol site realise its potential. After a cabinet paper in March, the same could well be true for Jubilee Pool.

Over in Eastville, the library closed on Muller Road by my predecessor is a shining example of how a community can build back better. So too for St George Community Association, which has exciting ideas for the future of their community centre just off Church Road.

Up the north of the city, Ambition Lawrence Weston has secured planning permission for a wind turbine to help power its future. Henbury & Brentry Community Centre is also seeing real success, while Avonmouth Community Centre’s new thirty year CAT lease has resulted in major improvements and the co-location of the library.

We are proud to be working with fellow Bristolians to build a better Bristol – putting communities in control of their future.