Residents reject scaled back leisure centre refurbishment plans (Kingswood)

A Labour-LibDem proposal to scale back a multi-million pound refurbishment of Kingswood Leisure Centre has been rejected by more than two-thirds of respondents to a public consultation, according to Conservative councillors on South Gloucestershire Council.

After an earlier consultation attracted only a limited response, a further independent consultation was carried out using a variety of different techniques, including local roadshows in Kingswood shopping centre.

One of the consultation options was put forward jointly by Labour and LibDem councillors on South Gloucestershire Council (so-called Option 2).

But the Council’s Chief Financial Officer concluded that their refurbishment scheme would have slashed £350k worth of investment and leave just £150k for very minimal internal improvements. Big upgrades to fitness and changing facilities would have been scrapped.

In contrast, the comprehensive refurbishment (Option 1) would offer £500k of additional investment as part of a £2.8m overall scheme, which would:

  • Refurbish pool hall, including the pool viewing area to make it accessible to anyone who can’t climb stairs;
  • Upgrade the “dry sports” changing rooms;
  • Upgrade “wet” changing area;
  • Upgrade and enlarge the reception area to provide a more welcoming area and providing a refreshment area;
  • Provide a modern gym facility, spinning area and dance studio by remodelling existing learner pool area;
  • Remodel the swimming pool to provide a 25 metre pool (similar to Longwell Green), a permanent boom and new learner pool.

Key findings of the further consultation on these two options included:

  • 1,826 valid responses were counted;
  • 69% of respondents favoured Option 1, while just 28% of respondents favoured the Labour-LibDem Option 2 scheme;
  • Kingswood residents support Option 1 more strongly than those living further afield;
  • People generally say they will use the centre more if modernisation goes ahead;
  • It was revealed that one individual attempted to respond 19 times and another individual attempted 14 responses in favour of Option 2 – their responses were only counted once.

Giving the go ahead to the comprehensive refurbishment, Cllr Heather Goddard, Conservative Cabinet Member for Communities, said:

“With something as important as the future of Kingswood Leisure Centre, we have wanted to make sure that we have recorded the views of a large representative range of users and Kingswood residents and we have clearly achieved that.”

“Nearly 2,000 responses were received with 69 per cent agreeing to give the leisure centre the 21st century comprehensive refurbishment it needs.”

“This result represents an emphatic rejection of the Labour-LibDem proposal to slash £350k of investment from our refurbishment package, including scrapping big improvements to the changing rooms and gym, and instead gives the green light to a £2.8m improvement scheme.”

“In support of the overwhelming majority of residents, the charitable Leisure Trust (which runs the district’s leisure centres) and the local NHS’ Director of Public Health have both backed the comprehensive refurbishment option as offering the most benefits to users and residents.”

Refurbishment work will start early in the New Year.

Source: Conservative Group on South Gloucestershire Council

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