Why local health and fitness ownership matters to you

Pictures from the newly refurbished Kingswood Sports Centre.

Sport and physical activity has a big impact on improving physical and mental wellbeing. Regularly attending a leisure facility also helps to connect people within local communities. Our strategy is for residents to have local access to take part in activities that create healthier, more resilient, and connected communities.

Every area of Bristol is different and that’s why we don’t do a ‘one size fits all’ approach to something as important as health. We want to work with you to make sure we’re offering the right type of ownership for your local fitness facility. After more than a decade of national austerity, the council cannot afford to do everything it might like to, and this means that we need to come up with new approaches to help ensure continued provision of fitness facilities across the city.  

We have rationalised the council’s leisure offer and invested in the centres that provide the highest footfall and the most impact for deprived communities. Kingsdown Sports Centre was removed from the council’s leisure services contract portfolio, so a new provider was needed to take on a commercial lease to operate and maintain the facility.

I am delighted that from 1 April the council will enter into new arrangements with Elite Sports UK, to manage, operate and maintain Kingsdown Sports Centre. Cabinet and I selected Elite Sports UK for this venue because of their strong proposal which helps and develops community sport. We have kept our commitment to ensure Kingsdown Sports Centre remains affordable and accessible to the community. The sports centre currently provides a range of affordable options for members, including a varied programme of sports hall activities, very strong and highly valued badminton and squash facilities, and a gym and fitness offer. There are also community spaces on the ground floor. Elite Sports UK submitted a strong proposal which protects and develops community sports Elite Sports UK has a great reputation and works with local communities to provide for innovative programmes around sport, leisure, and recreation.

A picture of the newly refurbished Kingswood Sports Centre, with a bench and weights.

In partnership with Elite Sports UK, we will be signing a 25-year lease agreement which will keep this much loved leisure centre open for the community to benefit for years to come. Kingsdown Sports Centre will be renamed Elite Sports Centre Kingsdown and will continue to provide an affordable price, making access assessable to all. There will be some initial development work which will see brand new gym kit which will include a new weights area, full body machines, resistance machines and new spin bikes.

On Saturday 15 April, Elite Sports Centre Kingsdown will be hosting a free open day for everyone and the new operators look forward to welcoming all the residents of Kingsdown and nearby to the new and improved facility.

These new arrangements are part of our overall leisure facilities investment strategy which supports the delivery of high quality, cost effective and efficient health and wellness services. As part of its strategy and in addition to these new arrangements for Kingsdown, the council is investing over £8 million across its leisure centres and swimming.

We are also pleased to have also successfully transferred Jubilee Pool into community ownership. These two facilities in different areas of Bristol are clear examples of how our current strategy can work for everyone. With the smallest usage of any council owned pool, we could not continue with the renovations required to keep Jubilee running on the stretched public purse and so we have worked in collaboration with local groups on a solution that keeps the pool open without public funding.   

I am proud to say that we have found two very different, but fantastic, solutions, for each local community. We look forward to seeing more people take advantage of our health and wellbeing facilities across Bristol including the leisure centres that remain council owned.