A group of protesters have occupied the site of the former Bristol North swimming bath on Gloucester Road.
The group entered the building in the early hours of Saturday demanding the building is reopened to provide a non-commercial space for the community.
We are a group of individuals concerned about the disappearance of public space and the privatisation of public services in Bristol. On Friday 20th January 2006, we reclaimed Bristol North Pool on Gloucester Road.
This year we have witnessed the closure of Speedwell and Filwood pools, the Robin Cousins sports centre as well as Bristol North. We’ve also seen recent cuts in library services glossed as “restructuring”, a process which also threatens our hospitals.
The sell-off of land to private property developers and speculators in Bristol’s historic harbour-side for luxury flats continues apace, pricing out those who need affordable housing. This while the city provides unsuitable temporary B&B accommodation for the homeless to satisfy government targets, and visible poverty is made socially unacceptable.
Getting round Bristol on public transport gets more expensive by the year with the latest hike in bus fares, and the vision of clean, cheap and reliable transport fades from view. And now we learn that all our transport is to be run by a single private monopoly – First. This is not simply a party-political issue as successive administrations have shown a similar approach, but about where power really lies in our city.
And what say do we have? Local elections in which 30% is a good turnout. A council more interested in posturing than accountability. Government quangos such as the South West Regional Development Agency who busily promote their “vision” of Bristol with no public consultation or scrutiny.
With this protest, we are asking the question, Who owns Bristol? and providing our own answer.
As part of this community, we want to see more not-for-profit public spaces, where we can exist as people, not consumers. As a practical symbol of this we are now rescuing this building from closure and disuse with the aim of providing a non-commercial space in the local community. It will be a place where all people in the local area are free to create, meet, share skills, learn, connect and entertain in a non-hierarchical environment.