Here's a list of questions we get asked about the Save Jubilee Pool campaign and our bid for community ownership of the pool...

Who are Friends of Jubilee Pool (FoJP)?

Friends of Jubilee Pool (FoJP) has existed to campaign against the closure of Jubilee Swimming Pool & Gym for several years.

In May 2021, Friends of Jubilee Pool (FoJP) was established as an unincorporated association (a formal community group) and, in order to bid to take over the management of the pool and gym through a Community Asset Transfer (CAT – see below), it was registered as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee in December called Friends of Jubilee Pool (Bristol) Ltd. Bristol City Council has made the decision that a successful CAT is the only way to prevent permanent closure of Jubilee Pool in 2022.

It has five directors and an advisory group of 15 people who are all volunteers from the local area and users of the pool.

If Friends of Jubilee Pool (Bristol) Ltd is successful in its bid for a CAT, the organisation will seek to also register as a charity later in 2022.

We now know that FoJP is the only organisation to have submitted a bid to take Jubilee Pool into community ownership.

Why does FoJP believe community ownership is the best option for the pool?

Friends of Jubilee Pool (Bristol) Ltd believes that the local community is best-placed to manage and ensure the sustainability of Jubilee Swimming Pool and Gym, for the delivery of social, economic, and environmental benefits to the local community and the people of Bristol.

What is a Community Asset Transfer (CAT)?

Community Asset Transfer (CAT) is a process that allows a community organisation to take over publicly-owned land or buildings in a way that recognises the public benefits that the transfer will bring.

Bristol City Council defines CAT as “The transfer of land or buildings from the council’s freehold ownership into the stewardship and/or ownership of third sector organisations”. Examples of CATs granted in Bristol in the past include community centres, advice centres, youth clubs, city farms, nurseries, social clubs, arts premises, museums, tourist attractions, etc.

What are the stages in the Jubilee Pool Community Asset Transfer process?

The timeline for the CAT process is incredibly tight!

  • CAT expression of interest submission - SUBMITTED 7th January
  • BCC Cabinet meeting to decide on the future of the pool (but not the EOI and a preferred bidder to take the CAT process forward) and the leisure facilities investment strategy - 8th February 2022
  • BCC CAT Group to assess the EOI and decide on a preferred bidder to take the CAT process forward - 17th February 2022
  • Full business plan and supporting documentation submission - 31st March 2022
  • Final CAT decision issued - Mid-May 2022
  • Organisation signs lease with BCC and begins management of the pool - possibly the end of summer/ Autumn 2022 (tbc).

This tight timeline means FoJP is already having to work on its business plan on the assumption that its expression of interest will be approved and FoJP will be the Council’s preferred bidder. Otherwise, there will not be enough time to prepare it to a high quality.

What happens if FoJP is unsuccessful?

Up until the start of February, it was the case that, if the Council is not satisfied that there is any bid (expression of interest) it can approve, Jubilee Pool would close permanently at the end of March 2022. In early February, the Council agreed to extend the contract with the pool’s current operator (Parkwood) to 30 September 2022 to allow time for the CAT process to run its course.

If the Council decides in May that the preferred bidder’s business plan is rejected, Jubilee Pool will close permanently at the end of September 2022.

What kind of things is FoJP fundraising to pay for?

From December 2021 to February 2022, the focus has been to raise funds to cover the costs associated with the CAT process. This includes:

-          Several surveys of the building to provide renovation costs required for the business plan (being provided pro bono in most cases, see next question below).

-          An accessibility audit (provided by a charity) to advise on improving disabled access throughout the pool building.

-          Support with financial modelling for the business plan.

-          Legal assistance with service agreement / contract negotiations with the Council if the CAT is successful.

-          Legal support to register as a charity (which will increase charitable  funding options and reduce tax costs).

-          Community engagement and publicity (adverts, printing materials etc.).

-          Seed funds for fundraising events.

-          Memberships of organisations that enable FoJP to access necessary services/support or benefit fundraising. For example, FoJP joined Local Giving (the online donation platform used for the Jubilee-athon sponsored 24-hour relay swim) at a cost of £96 but this enabled us to raise over £2,000 in gift aid through Local Giving’s registered charity status. This would not have been possible through other donation platforms as FoJP is not yet a registered charity.

Sufficient funds have now been raised to cover the costs of the CAT process. If FoJP is selected as the preferred bidder and its business plan is subsequently approved by the Council in May 2022, there will need to be a much bigger fundraising push to cover significant renovations as the pool building has lacked investment for many years.

If more funds are raised than are needed for the CAT process, these funds will be used for transition/start-up costs to enable the pool to keep operating, and then for renovations and/or pool services when FoJP takes over the management of the pool.

Can’t the CAT process be managed with pro bono (free of charge) support instead of needing funds to be raised?

FoJP is making significant efforts to source as much pro bono support as possible to reduce funds that need to be raised. To date, the following support / services have been secured pro bono:

-          Sport England has covered £3,000 worth of advice relating to the development FoJP’s expression of interest from Locality, the national network supporting community organisations.

-          Structural building survey provided by Rapleys.

-          Mechanical and engineering survey provided by Service Design Solutions (SDS).

-          Basic drain survey provided by Total Drainage Services Ltd (TDS).

-          Wet side pool survey to be provided by Swim England.

We are also working through our own networks and with additional assistance from City Funds to seek pro bono support for advice on financial modelling for FoJP’s business plan and legal assistance with service agreement/contract negotiations with the Council if that business plan is approved.

However, there are costs for which there is no possible or realistic/sustainable pro bono option (see list above).

Pro bono legal support to register as a charity is very rare because the companies that work on this are specialised and all their clients are charitable organisations. 

Apart from the Jubilee-athon sponsored 24-hour relay swim, what other kind of fundraising is FoJP doing?

FoJP submitted three grant funding applications for the CAT process in December-January (totalling £15,000). Two of these grants were approved in the first week of February: £5,000 from the Quartet Community Foundation’s Express Grant Programme and £5,000 from the Society of Merchant Venturers.

A lot of work has also been done to identify grant funding opportunities for building work/capital costs and projects for community benefit.

FoJP is now waiting to find out whether it is invited to submit a business plan before submitting any more applications to fund community ownership transition/start-up costs. This is because applications are more likely to be approved when there is more certainty around the outcome of the CAT process.

A fundraising strategy has been developed to guide fundraising if FoJP’s CAT bid is successful. This includes a wide range of approaches such as: trust, foundation and statutory grants; community fundraising, crowdfunding appeals, and events; and corporate and major donor fundraising.

What will happen to funds FoJP has raised if the CAT bid is unsuccessful?

These are the possible scenarios as things stand:

1)      FoJP is selected as BCC’s preferred bidder at expression of interest stage in February and the CAT process moves forward.

Funds raised will be used to cover the costs of the CAT process and to prepare for transition to community ownership. If FoJP’s business plan is then approved by BCC at the final decision-making stage in May, significant additional funds will need to be raised to cover the costs of rehabilitating and upgrading the building, and implement activities or projects for community benefit e.g. enabling people who cannot currently access or use the Jubilee Pool to do so. If more funds are raised between December 2021 and July 2022 than are needed for the CAT process and transition to community ownership, these funds will be used for renovations and/or pool services or community projects when FoJP takes over the management of the pool.

2)      In February, BCC does not select any bid to progress to CAT business plan stage.

In this case, Jubilee Pool will close at the end of September 2022 and FoJP will no longer have any relevant role to play. Any funds raised by FoJP that are not granted for a specific project/activity will be donated to Imperial Sports Ground – the nearest charitable leisure facility to Jubilee Pool. This is outlined as a commitment in the articles of association which form the governing document for Friends of Jubilee Pool (Bristol) Ltd. Any unspent grant funding restricted to specific projects (in this case, the CAT) is likely to need to be returned to the funder.

3)      FoJP’s expression of interest progresses to CAT business plan stage but is rejected at that final stage in May.

In this scenario, Jubilee Pool will close in September 2022 and any unspent funds raised by FoJP will be donated to Imperial Sports Ground (or returned to the funder in the case of grant funding).

Why has Friends of Jubilee Pool just started raising funds now despite being a voluntary organisation for some time?

Before the CAT process began, costs associated with campaigning to prevent the pool’s closure were quite minimal and FoJP members were covering these from their own pockets. This is no longer feasible or fair to expect.

Even though the outcome of the CAT cannot be guaranteed, FoJP needs to cover costs related to the CAT bid from January 2022 in order to try to prevent Jubilee Pool from permanent closure. The process for the CAT is very tight, as can be seen from the timetable above. This means that FoJP needs to fundraise from the start of 2022 to cover costs for the months just following the decision of the Council on the CAT business plan stage in May as we cannot risk being successful with the CAT bid and not having the funds available to take over the management of the pool.

How does Friends of Jubilee Pool make decisions about how to use funds it raises and get best value for money?

FoJP’s management group currently discusses expenditure and procurement. Decisions are made on the basis of a majority vote.

FoJP is putting in place finance and procurement policies which outline monetary thresholds, approval authorities that sit with bank signatories and directors, and procedures and approval forms that the directors and advisory group members must adhere to and use when procuring goods or services. These policies and procedures will be used for management of funds raised.

Some funds will need to be spent to enable FoJP’s CAT bid to progress even though it may ultimately be rejected by the Council. Unfortunately, this is unavoidable due to the structure and timeline of the CAT process being run by the Council. Where it is possible to wait for more clarity on CAT outcomes before incurring expenses and without compromising the CAT bid, FoJP will do so.

How can I help FoJP with its CAT bid?

Keep up to date with what’s happening by following FoJP’s work (see the next question). FoJP will periodically ask for volunteers to help with particular activities or pieces of work. We will also let you know if and when we need to start another fundraising push and how you can best get involved with this.

How can I keep up to date with news on the CAT bid?

Email us to join our mailing list to receive newsletters from Friends of Jubilee Pool, including the latest news and CAT updates, as well as fundraising events, future leaflet drops and much more.

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