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Agenda Item No.

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 8TH APRIL, 2013

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT): 12TH MARCH, 2013

 

 

“           COLCOT SPORTS CENTRE OPTIONS APPRAISAL (DVSH) –

 

The report was presented to the Committee for consideration and following a recent site visit at the premises on 22nd February  2013 by members of the Committee, the Chairman of Corporate Resources and the Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sport Development.

 

The Chairman informed the Committee that he had agreed to a request by Mr. T. Williams of the Vale of Glamorgan Football league to speak on the matter and subsequently invited Mr. Williams to make his representations.

 

In commencing with his representations, in the first instance, Mr Williams with the permission of the Committee, read out a letter that he had been handed by a local resident, Mr. J. Hardman, who had been involved in the Colcot Centre for some time.  The letter referred to a meeting with the local Assembly Member who had stated that the Centre was a good centre and should receive assistance.  However, the letter advised that investments to date at the Centre had in the main been to “patch and mend” the facility.  There were currently 96 football teams using the facility and both the Referee Society and a local Boxing Club met there on a regular basis.  From both Mr. Williams and Mr. Hardman’s point of view the Sports Centre was a local necessity and an excellent facility for the community and had many advantages for all in particular for health reasons.  The facilities were well used but required refurbishment.  The fabric of the building in particular the lack of toilet and changing room facilities which were inadequate and in disparate need of an upgrade.  In his address Mr. Williams drew Members’ attention to the 300 houses proposed at White Farm and the future implications for facilities for young people and also raised the following concerns in relation to the report :-

 

1.            Why is the Council agreeing to a 12 month lease with the playgroup when the premises “is a sports centre and Alexandra Gardens seems to be coming on line.”?

2.            The report stated that a building condition survey had indicated a need for repairs in the region of £450k.  This could be much better utilised by building an extension and to date little evidence of any spend could be seen as the building was in much need of refurbishment.

3.            In referring to the need to develop 3G pitches Mr. Williams advised that these could cost approximately £300,000 per pitch and he could not imagine the Vale affording such a facility. Drainage issues on the fields also needed to be addressed. 

 

The Chairman thanked Mr. Williams for his contribution and for providing the Committee with the details of Mr. Hardman’s letter, advising that the Committee would take note of the representations when considering the report.

 

As the Director of Visible Services and Housing had declared an interest in the item, the Operational Manager for Parks and Grounds Maintenance presented the report to the Scrutiny Committee noting that any recommendations were for Cabinet approval and or decision. 

 

The report referred to the fact that the Colcot Sports Centre had once been a thriving vibrant facility but that due to changes in public use, reductions in funding and the recent transfer of a number of buildings and other assets to Parkwood, it was now used primarily as a changing pavilion for local football teams.  The sports hall was occupied by Cylch Bethesda Playgroup during the week and Wendy Summerell’s School of Dance in the evenings and weekends under a short term licence. 

 

The Operational Manager informed Members that prior to May 2012 it had become clear that a number of the centre’s users and an element of the local community had become concerned about the centre’s future and a local “Save Colcot Sports Centre Campaign” had been launched.  In order to reassure the Community and users of the Council’s commitment to the facility and to obtain some broad ideas for the centre’s long term future, an Options Appraisal Study had been arranged during 2012.  Funding for the appraisal had been made available from the Barry Regeneration Partnership Project Fund and had involved stakeholders with Butlins Consulting having undertaken the work.  A copy of the final report was attached at Appendix D to the report. 

 

Paragraphs 8-15 of the report provided a précis of the details contained within the Executive Summary with Members being informed that the report looked at the context of the facility and indicated a number of issues with regard to its future use.  The appraisal advised that whilst the overall strategic position was excellent and the facility worked well, the centre itself was not in the best location, was too far from schools, was not adjacent to the grass pitches it served and not in the heart of any particular community.  It was also evident that any future investment decisions should be considered in the context of a changing environment and priorities and should be part of a much wider vision addressing the needs of the area in order to secure optimum value for money and the greatest long term amenity. 

 

The Operational Manager also advised that although the options appraisal had made a number of suggestions, these were aspirational as funding was not available.  He referred to one of the recommendations contained within the report being that a feasibility study be set up involving key stakeholders to develop the most suitable proposals for the medium and long term users of the facility.  Local Members at Committee considered that it was essential to engage with the community in a proactive way to consider their views on what was required and that football usage should also be part of the study.  A Local Member also stated that, in his view, one of the problems in the past had been that the Council had not maintained the properties as they should have been and hence the state of disrepair that the sports centre now found itself in. The facility had in previous years offered a number of recreational activities e.g. tennis, volley ball, football amongst others and was a focus for the community.  The fact that a 40 year old boiler remained in the facility was proof enough to the local Member that the maintenance issues had not been addressed.  He further stated that the Assembly Member had worked hard in supporting the local group and their initiatives, having met with them in March 2011 regarding the facility.  The Local Member also stated that in his opinion there had been no need for an options appraisal as the local community were fully aware of what they needed, although he could conclude that the appraisal had come up with some suggestions.  There were a number of willing volunteers in the area who wished to see the sports centre improved and he felt that consideration should be given to encouraging the volunteers together with identifying other ways of attracting funding. 

 

In response to a query on whether the drainage issues at the sports centre were a unique problem, Members were informed that the Buttrills playing field had always had issues with drainage and in light of the recent inclement weather, these had been exacerbated.  The Operational Manager referred to the department commissioning a study on the future viability of all of the Council’s football pitches in relation to drainage with recommendations to be considered in due course for improvement.

 

In response to a further query as to whether the building lent itself to modernising, the Operational Manager advised that the report indicated that the building was sound. 

 

In conclusion Members considered it important that consultation was undertaken with the local community and that the Council should be clear as to what it required from the feasibility study.  The Chairman was of the view that the terms of reference of the feasibility study should be agreed by the Cabinet and that the Committee should receive a progress report in 12 months on the issue.

 

The Committee, having fully considered the representations made at the meeting, the views of Members and the contents of the report subsequently,

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to submit a bid to the Barry Regeneration Partnership Project Development Fund for £20k. in 2013/14 for a feasibility study to identify a range of possible future uses for the centre in consultation with the local community and that Cabinet agree the Terms of Reference of the study.

 

 (2)      T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider that on conclusion of the feasibility study (1) above, a steering group be set up involving key stakeholders to develop the most suitable proposals for the medium and long term users of the facility.

 

(3)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider authorising the Director of Visible Services and Housing to undertake basic improvement works to the centre building during 2013/14 to increase standards for existing users and to protect the building from weather damage (as outlined in paragraph 23 of the report).

 

(4)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider that the Head of Legal Services and the Director of Development Services negotiate 12 month extension leases with Cylch Bethesda Playgroup and Wendy Summerell’s School of Dance.

 

(5)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider that the Head of Legal Services be authorised to execute the new leases on behalf of the Council and register the same.

 

(6)       T H A T a progress report on the Colcot Sports Centre be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in 12 months from the date of this meeting.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To improvement current facilities for the users and to protect the building from further weather damage and to agree a Terms of Reference for the study.

 

(2)       To develop appropriate options for future use in the medium and long term.

 

(3)       To provide the necessary funding to undertake a feasibility study into the possible future uses for the facility, taking into account the community’s aspirations.

 

(4)       To support the work of the Cylch Bethesda Playgroup and Wendy Summerell’s School of Dance.

 

(5)       To secure the completion of the new leases.

 

(6)       To provide the Scrutiny Committee with a progress update.

 

 

NB:  The Director of Visible Services and Housing vacated the room whilst this item was being considered.

 

 

 

Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment): 12th March 2013

 

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