Ratepayers could be replaced by cafe as report says there is 'real interest' in outside operator for Filton leisure centre

September 29 2020
Ratepayers could be replaced by cafe as report says there is 'real interest' in outside operator for Filton leisure centre

The leisure centre has been struggling financially, with pre-Covid estimates for running costs of £610,000 this year.

A consultant working with Filton Town Council says there is ‘real’ outside sector interest in bidding to run the Elm Park leisure centre and pool.
The leisure centre has been struggling financially, with pre-Covid estimates for running costs of £610,000 this year.
With income failing to meet this sum and high staffing costs, the council was forced into a 35% increase in the town council precept earlier this year.
Councillors decided to engage a consultant to investigate alternative ways of running the leisure centre, sports facilities, soft play and also the Ratepayers bar. An initial presentation to councillors revealed that a significant revamping of the leisure centre building was needed.
He cited several issues:

  • An unattractive arrival experience for visitors
  • Multiple entrances
  • A lack of aconnected walkway through the centre
  • Reception only serving the pool area
  • Soft play not linked to cafe
  • The hall is underused
  • Concerns over the need for the bar
  • The council offices occupy too prime a location

He reported that in his opinion the bar was not an ‘income driver’ and possible other options could include a café/ bar, linked to the soft play and swimming pool. A new operator would be attracted by the substantial playing fields and with new development on Filton Airfield, potentially increased demand.
Other services which could be offered include climbing walls, a spa and tenpin bowling.
He said the options for change ranged from small conversions up to a complete rebuild.
The rebuild option, he said, was unlikely to deliver a return financially but a partial rebuild could bring an improvement in revenue of around £400,000+.
This would mean a much more attractive ‘front of house’ and the possible loss of the Ratepayers bar.
The likely operator would be an NPDO (Not for Profit Distributing Organisation), set up specifically to run the leisure centre.
Although Covid has slowed the process, the council finance meeting in September was told there was ‘real interest’ from potential operators.
It is understood there would be no likelihood of the pool closing before a new operator took over as existing clientele would need to be retained and not lost to other facilities.
Some of the companies approached already run pools and other facilities in the Bristol area.