On Tuesday the future of the Bristol North Baths will be decided as the city cabinet meets to approve £1.5 million of extra spending proposed to finish the project. This is after the news of the extra funding plan was announced last week, and commented on by us.
As we have written about and campaigning on in the past, the project suffered has a string of problems, lengthy delays, and has seen its developer put into administration. More than 100 creditors are also owed money by the failed developer, Chatsworth Homes, and many of these are self-employed tradespeople such as builders, plumbers and electricians who were sub-contracted for the project.
The local Labour party is adding further pressure on the current Mayor and local councillors. We are concerned about the lack of transparency on the project, its anticipated end date, the reimbursement of Chatsworth Homes’ creditors and whether the funding plan is watertight. We are calling on the Mayor to provide clarification on the plans for the Baths in order to gain assurances that the extra money will be well spent.
Last week Thangam Debbonaire, your Labour MP for Bristol West, wrote a letter to the Mayor detailing her concerns. In it, she said: “It is, of course, vital that large spending decisions such as these happen in an accountable and transparent manner. And it is important that the community-focused elements of the original plans for the Bristol North Baths are preserved.” She went on to ask: “The revised competition date for this development is ‘within the year’. Do you still expect the building to reopen by then? As well as residents needing to use the services promised by the development, the current frontage gives the appearance of a derelict building which clearly has a negative impact on the area. Moreover, Bishopston desperately needs more homes, and the sooner they can be occupied the better.” Click here to read all of Thangam’s letter.
In addition, a letter written to and published in the Bristol Post by Tom Brook, Labour Candidate for Bishopston and Ashley Down ward, said: “The Council’s statement of confidence in recouping the taxpayers’ money spent on the project is dependent on all the parts of the building being occupied. The Bishopston Medical Practice pulled out of the project late last year citing space, design and cost issues. As far as I am aware this is still their opinion, thus they will not be moving into the Baths. I therefore wonder who else, if anyone, is being lined up to take their place and, if there is currently no-one, how the Council intends to recoup the taxpayers’ money?” Read all of Tom’s letter below.
It remains to be seen what the cabinet and Mayor’s decision will be, and how long it will be before the Bristol North Baths project is complete. Labour will continue to push for a speedy, high quality, and community-driven completion of the project.