FUTURE OF COMMUNITY SPORT PROVISION HANGS IN THE BALANCE

We would urge all local residents to take part in the latest public consultation exercise on the future of the city’s parks and sports provision (https://bristol.citizenspace.com/management-of-place/parks-sports-facilities/).

Following its review of Bristol’s ‘Playing Pitch Strategy’ (2017-2022) the City Council concluded that many of the facilities needed to support sporting activities like bowls, cricket and football were ageing and requiring improvement.

However the Mayor and his councillors previously decided that the Parks Services budget should be made cost neutral to the Council. At present, sporting amenities at the sites identified in the consultation are provided at a net cost of £201k per annum.

People are being asked to choose from three options listed on the following web link below.

These include Options:

A: inviting third parties to take over sports provision;

B: the Council continuing to run facilities by raising hire charges;

C: adopting alternative ideas which achieve zero operating costs.

This could dramatically increase the charges levied on local sports clubs - in our case this would effect the Henbury Football Club on the Arnall Drive Open Space and the Canford Bowling Club and Football Club at Canford Park.

We know that budgets are tight, however, it needs to be repeated here that there are still alternatives available to the Council and money could be re-allocated.

For example, in the last Conservative budget amendment – rejected by the other parties in February – we proposed saving £100k from the Mayor’s Office and a further £100k by reducing the Corporate Communications budget. This alone would have met the annual cost of the sporting facilities now under review.

There are also other costly extravagances like the seemingly bottomless money pit of Bristol Energy which are being kept afloat to the detriment of other key projects or provision in the city.

The Mayor himself has acknowledged the huge contribution that sport makes towards the health and success of our city, as well as welcoming the European City of Sport accolated back in 2017.

None of us want to see sports clubs close due to a hike in rents or the number of people involved in healthy activities drop. We hope that the public will take part in the consultation and we hope that the Council will revisit this decision.