Agenda Item No.
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT): 24 MARCH 2015
REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 9 MARCH 2015
C2692 FEES AND CHARGES, COUNTRYSIDE SERVICE (VLS) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT) -
Approval was sought for the proposed changes to charges levied at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, Porthkerry Country Park and the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Centre.
Cosmeston Medieval Village
In June 2012, after a review of operations, the Medieval Village became a free entry site. Management of the site was absorbed into the Country Park Ranger Service (previously a dedicated Manager and Assistant Manager) and as a result a considerable year on year cost saving had been realised. Charges were raised for some services, such as guided tours, but basic entry had been free.
Income had grown, especially in respect of filming activities which had been a target for growth. Filming by companies such as the BBC, Disney and Fox, had resulted in a substantial growth in income in recent years, with a number of bookings and leads already being negotiated for 2015/16. Further increases were therefore proposed, but with the flexibility to negotiate to ensure a balance was achieved.
These charges, including those related to events such as fetes and trade events that took place in the village, were set out in Appendix A as attached to the report.
Cosmeston Lakes Country Park. Appendix B as attached to the report showed proposed changes to charges. In some cases charges remained unchanged, in others they increased by more than the rate of inflation. This reflected the true value of the unique facility, and a need to recover a larger proportion of costs incurred to achieve overall savings.
Porthkerry Country Park
Appendix C as attached to the report showed proposed charges for Porthkerry. Charges, similar to Cosmeston. One new charge being introduced was the hire of part of the meadow for events. Such events would be managed to avoid disturbance to other park users, but represented an opportunity to allow increased organised use of the meadow area and raise additional income.
Further Commercial Opportunities
The Countryside Service was nearing the end of a fundamental restructure, facilitating more integrated working across all sites, including Rights of Way maintenance. This was realising substantial cost savings. Realising savings above targets had allowed the creation of a new Commercial Opportunities Officer post on a two year contract. The post holder would work with the private sector to explore feasible options and facilitate new activities at the full range of countryside sites.
Glamorgan Heritage Coast Project
Proposed charges were set out in Appendix D as attached to the report, which were largely unchanged.
In January this year the Council secured a 'Coastal Communities' grant of £224 760 to exploit the employment creation opportunities of the Heritage Coast. This followed from the very successful work at the coast led by Creative Rural Communities, the Council led rural regeneration partnership project.
This work had included the creation and part implementation of an interpretation strategy, improvements to the Heritage Coast Centre to make it more public facing, creation of several new campsites, roll out of National Cycle network 88, promotion of 'sense of place' amongst tourism businesses, digital tourism tools and a suite of new promoted walking routes.
The funding also allowed for the replacement of the slipway at Southerndown, the provision of beach wheelchairs and provision of new storage units for outdoor activity equipment (e.g. Kayaks) at the Heritage Coast Centre. It was proposed that the latter be hired to the private sector to enable growth of small businesses offering outdoor activities along the Heritage Coast. The grant was providing 100% of costs.
At the meeting the report was presented by the Cabinet Member for Regeneration as a result of a change in Portfolio’s at the recent Council Meeting held on the 4 of March 2015.
The Cabinet Member for Regeneration commented that these changes would ensure that services ran efficiently. She was also pleased to note that the Council had secured a â€œCoastal Communitiesâ€ grant to encourage economic activity on the Heritage Coast area.
This was a matter for Executive decision
(1) T H A T the charges detailed in the Appendices A,B,C & D as attached to the report for implementation in April 2015 be agreed.
(2) T H A T the charges be the maximum with the Director of Development Services having the ability to vary for promotions.
(3) T H A T the report be referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) for information.
(4) T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Director of Development Services, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and the Managing Director to agree fees/charges, terms and conditions for new commercial activities in respect of countryside services or on land managed by countryside services and to authorise the Head of Legal Services to enter into the appropriate legal agreements on behalf of the Council in this regard.
(5) T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Director of Development Services to agree charges, terms and conditions and to manage the letting of storage units at the Heritage Coast Centre, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and to authorise the Head of Legal Services to enter into the appropriate legal agreements on behalf of the Council in this regard.
Reasons for Decisions
(1) To reflect costs, opportunities and market conditions.
(2) To allow prices to be used as a marketing tool.
(3) To inform Members.
(4) To allow new activities to take place.
(5) To allow commercial arrangements to be established
Attached as Appendix – Report to Cabinet – 9 MARCH 2015