Bristol City Council has taken back control of Bristol North Baths, after repeated delays to the project.
The project is to convert the site into flats, a library, and a health centre and has now been ongoing for 10 years, leaving the uncompleted site an eyesore on Gloucester Road.
The Bristol North Baths were closed in late 2005, with the loss of valuable Gloucester Road parking, and planning permission was granted for the development in 2008. However, work on the project did not start until nearly 5 years after that, and the project has consistently run late ever since.
Throughout this delay Chatsworth had to be lent £3.4 million of taxpayers’ money by Bristol City Council to complete the project. In addition, work was paused in 2014 due to concerns from the Council about quality. It still looks as though the project will take some time to resolve, with the possibility of legal disputes between those involved and lots of uncertainty for the community.
The Labour party in Bishopston & Ashley Down and Redland is dismayed that the project has taken so long and have allegedly produced substandard work on the project, letting the work & costs spiral out of control. We also believe that some blame lies with the City Council and councillors, who should have intervened much earlier and ensured that their contractual abilities to force progress were stronger.
A press conference was held on the 26th November, at which Chatsworth made their case for continuing to undertake the project. It was noted by numerous attendees at the press conference that the local Green Party councillors had not been proactive enough in keeping the local community informed. It was likewise noted that none of said Green Party councillors were present at the press conference.
Now that the Council has taken control of the project, the local Labour party will support the project being put back on track, but will continually scrutinise the Council’s actions to ensure that the best result and value for money is gained for the local community. Whilst the decisions and actions of Chatsworth, the Council and local councillors have not been ideal so far, it is in the interest of the community that the project is completed as quickly and smoothly as possible.
If elected in May (and if the project is still ongoing), Labour councillors in the area will proactively work with Bristol City Council and other stakeholders to help get this project completed. We will ensure that the local community is regularly kept informed of the status of the project, and will work together with stakeholders across Bristol to ensure that fiascos such as this do not occur again in the city. Finally, we will seek to assist contractors and providers in gaining their due payments from Chatsworth Homes.
The Bristol North Baths site has long served the community in this area of Bristol, and it is our hope that the public can be re-provided with community facilities on the site in the very near future.
UPDATE 14/12/15: I wrote a letter to the Bristol Post on the subject of the Baths and it was published on Friday 11th December. You can read it below: