Agenda Item No. 14

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 2nd July 2018

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Social Care, Health and Leisure

 

Reshaping Services: A Sustainable Approach to the Provision of Single User Outdoor Sports facilities

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. The purpose of this report is to bring to the attention of Cabinet the costs incurred in maintaining and providing sites and facilities that are predominantly for the benefit of single clubs and organisations. 
  2. The report also seeks authority to implement changes to the methods of providing and managing such sites and facilities and in turn the cost implications of providing for outdoor sports activities where the service is provided predominately to one club or organisation at one location.

Recommendations

  1. That Cabinet agree in principle as the basis for referral to Community Liaison Committee and Scrutiny Committee (Healthy Living and Social Care) that the Council works towards recovering the actual cost of maintaining sports grounds and pitches at sites where the facilities are used almost exclusively by one club or organisation rather than retaining a charging structure where individual fees are applied at each location.
  2. That Cabinet agree in principle as the basis for referral to Community Liaison Committee and Scrutiny Committee (Healthy Living and Social Care) that any Club or Organisation that are single users of Council facilities be given the opportunity to maintain the facilities themselves if they do not wish to pay the Council the cost of maintaining the facilities provided this is to a satisfactory standard as assessed annually by the Director of Environmental and Housing Services.
  3. That this report be referred to the Community Liaison Committee and Scrutiny Committee (Healthy Living and Social Care) for consideration prior to reaching a final determination. 
  4. That, subject to recommendations 1 - 3 above, delegated authority be granted to the Director of Environment and Housing to progress discussions in relation to all single use sites as listed in Appendix A, and subsequently, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Social Care, Health and Leisure to agree new arrangements for the facilities listed in appendix 'A' so that they be implemented on 1st April 2019 with a view to achieving a better balance between recovering the actual operating costs and promoting active lifestyles.
  5. That delegated authority be given to the Head of Finance in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Social Care, Health and Leisure and the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources to renegotiate arrangements with organisations with regards to their usage of a Council owned facility.
  6. That delegated authority is granted to the Head of Legal Services to draft and execute revised agreements where appropriate.
  7. That Cabinet note the development of revised new Community asset transfer processes, including development of a 'fast track system' to support this and other initiatives and this will be brought to Cabinet in due course.
  8. That a further report be brought to Cabinet prior to 1st April 2019 to provide an update of the situation and to provide details of any single user outdoor sports facilities where the current user does not wish to continue using the facilities under the proposed new arrangements.
  9. That a further report setting out options in order to reduce the levels of revenue subsidy at multi-use outdoor sports sites be presented to Cabinet before the 31 December 2018.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To introduce an equitable system for outdoor sports facilities.
  2. To allow clubs / organisation a choice in future service delivery.
  3. To allow consultation with Town and Community Councils and the relevant Scrutiny Committee prior to reaching a final determination.
  4. To allow the revised approach to be implemented prior to 1 April 2019.
  5. To agree revised agreements in a timely manner.
  6.  To ensure that the necessary legal documentation is in place for any required agreements.
  7. To enable efficient and effective transfer of assets as appropriate.
  8. To consider disposal or future use of such facilities.
  9. To allow for consideration of options to reduce subsidies at multi use outdoor sports grounds.

Background

  1. The Vale of Glamorgan Council is the major provider of outdoor sports facilities in the County.  The provision of sites and facilities, such as sport pitches, is central to achieving our well-being outcome of an Active and Healthy Vale.  Indeed, our Corporate Plan (2016-20), under objective 7, 'Encouraging and promoting active and healthy lifestyles' has a number of actions that seek to encourage and increase levels of participation in sport and activity.  To this end, the Council has traditionally charged a fixed hire fee for its outdoor sports facilities.  However, the fees charged do not cover the costs associated with providing and maintaining the facilities.  The level of subsidy varies greatly from sport to sport and also within sports as the quality of pitches, bowling rinks, cricket squares and other facilities vary across the area due to a number of factors such as league requirements, soil type, drainage systems and frequency of use.
  2. The majority of these sites and facilities are used by a variety of clubs and organisations, as well as being accessible to the wider community, at times when organised and competitive sport is being played.  Examples include the Buttrills Football pitches and Jenner Park in Barry.  In contrast, some facilities are used exclusively by one club or organisation.  This report is presented to provide clarity on the latter category of provision and aims to set out a sustainable way forward in the provision of single club, single use facilities.
  3. Cabinet will note these proposals have been developed in the context of diminishing resources and increasing competition for those diminishing resources, whilst at the same time being mindful of the benefits of sport and activity in meeting our well-being outcome of an active and healthy Vale. The Council's transformational change programme, Reshaping Services, seeks to maintain priority services at a time of budget constraint. Exploring different ways of working, including the transfer of responsibility in appropriate circumstances to community groups is a key element of this strategy. There is an established project team working to progress these opportunities. Considerable learning has been developed by the Council during the creation of community libraries. This saw five libraries transferred to community groups following a process of support and assistance. These libraries are now attracting external sources of funding that would otherwise have been unavailable to the Council, have developed further, more locally targeted services and have remained available to residents of the Vale of Glamorgan.
  4. The proposals outlined in this report are consistent too, with the Council's Income Generation and Commercial Opportunities Strategy which contains a strategic objective whereby the Council will aim towards achieving full cost recovery where it is appropriate to do so.
  5. In contrast with outdoor sport, indoor sport operated by the Council via its Leisure centres no longer requires a significant revenue subsidy with the Leisure centre contract delivering a revenue surplus. Pursuing a strategy which seeks to put these types of provision on an equal footing is considered to be an efficient use of council funds, whilst retaining and encouraging participation in sporting activity.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. As set out above, the justification for significant revenue subsidy for outdoor sports provision needs to be challenged given the financial pressures on the Council's budget.  Whilst the important role sport plays, for all sectors of the community in terms of health and wellbeing, is not questioned, the cost of provision needs to be examined to ensure value for money is being achieved.
  2. There are a number of private sports clubs in the Vale of Glamorgan who provide outdoor sports provision and have active junior/ youth sections but do not benefit from any direct subsidy from the Council. There are, however, a number of clubs/ organisations who have almost exclusive use of some Council owned facilities.  The manner in which the Council manages such assets does not reflect the need to ensure that budgets are used effectively.  Notably, the fees that are charged fall well-short of covering the costs of operating these facilities.
  3. Attached at Appendix A is a breakdown of Council owned outdoor single user sport sites which are in scope of these proposals.  Due to the manner in which these single user sites have developed and the specific nature of the sport in question (in relation to certain sites) there appears very limited opportunity for these sites to develop into multi-use sites.
  4. Given the Council's current financial situation and the need to direct revenue support to areas where it will have maximum impact and reach across all sectors of the community, a review has been conducted of the current approach. 
  5. The level of subsidies afforded to single use facilities varies depending upon the location and type of sport. However, for bowling greens are approximately £25,000 per annum. For large, fine turfed sports fields the cost to maintain and manage these facilities is approximately £80,000 per annum.  The income from these facilities falls significantly short of the cost to operate. This is estimated to result in a net cost to the Council of approximately £400,000 per annum.
  6. In order to ensure that resources do not continue to be diverted away from facilities and pitches used across the community, it is recommended that a new approach be adopted for all single use sites.
  7. The proposed approach is summarised below.
  8. The Council will amend the fees charged to clubs and organisations for single use facilities from their current level to the actual cost of operating and maintaining these (after any income), from 1st April 2019.
  9. However, the Council will initially make contact with the existing users of the facilities identified in Appendix A.  Details of the current costs of maintaining and operating these sites will be shared in order that these organisations and clubs be encouraged, wherever possible, to explore the opportunity to take over the management of these facilities from 1st April 2019. This would be subject to an agreement that ensures it is maintained to a satisfactory condition. 
  10. These discussions will be undertaken on a facility-by-facility basis, reflecting the varying agreements currently in place (for example, some organisations may have existing leases for a club-house, but not for the playing field etc.). This will also enable an Equality Impact Assessment to be developed that reflects the specific local circumstances of the facility.
  11. In recognising that this will be a significant change to the pricing structure, the Council's preference is to provide clubs/organisations with the opportunity to maintain the facility themselves.
  12. To assist clubs / organisations who wish to adopt this scenario, the Council is currently reviewing the Community Asset Transfer protocol to enable a 'fast track' process to be established that could assist with the transfer of responsibilities in this area as appropriate. Signposting to organisations, such as Glamorgan Voluntary Services, who may be able to provide advice and support in the development of business cases to support the running of facilities or potential sources of income, will form a part of this process.
  13. The proposal to introduce this new arrangement from 1st April 2019 is designed to allow clubs to plan for the changes and it is proposed that frequent contact would be maintained with any club or organisation throughout the coming months. 
  14. It is likely, particularly for bowls, that the current level of single user provision at individual sites is unsustainable.  Where it is clear, from initial meetings, that this is the case, the option of consolidation of facilities will be discussed with the clubs/ organisations concerned and they would be supported to bring new arrangements into effect.
  15. Consultation will also be encouraged with Town and Community Councils and the voluntary sector, particularly where it is apparent that a single use Sports facility may be unaffordable to the club/Organisation currently occupying the site, or where the capacity and skills do not exist to allow that club or organisation to progress by way of a CAT or lease arrangement.  Such discussions will likely include potential alternative approaches, including whether the Town/Community Council or another voluntary group could manage the facility or providing financial support to the club or organisation.
  16. Where the club/organisation does not wish to the current resident clubs be charged the actual operating costs from 1st April 2019 rather than the current hire fees. 
  17. Alongside, this approach, further work will also be undertaken on the ability to reduce the revenue subsidy at multi-use sites and a further report will be presented to cabinet on this issue, before the end of the 2018 Calendar year.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. There are no direct TUPE implications associated at this report.  However, it is likely that a review of staffing, particularly groundsmen, will be required throughout the process as the level of staffing required will become clearer.  In preparation for this at least one groundsman position was not replaced due to a retirement and there are likely to be redeployment opportunities given the Reshaping Services project within Neighbourhood Services which would help mitigate the effect of any potential redundancies.
  2. As described throughout the report, the Council currently provides a subsidy for outdoor sport. The need to balance the availability of Council funds with the promotion of our Well-being Objectives is a key consideration facing all services. It is for this reason that this approach has been adopted for single-use sites.
  3. The subsidies currently applied to single use sports grounds vary based on the type of sport and the condition level it is maintained to. This ranges from approximately £80,000 for a large sports field that has areas of fine turf to £5,800 for a single football pitch.  A grass bowls green, several of which are identified in Appendix 'A', currently receive a subsidy in the region of £25,000 per green, per annum.  Based on these levels of subsidy, significant savings are possible.
  4. This report recommends that delegated authority be given to the Head of Finance in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Social Care, Health and Leisure and the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources to renegotiate arrangements with organisations with regards to their usage of a Council owned facility where appropriate.
  5. Cabinet will note the existence of the Strong Communities Grant Fund which has been established to support community organisations to establish sustainable local services/facilities. The Council will continue to support individual groups to make applications to this fund where they meet the criteria for grant funding.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The Council is committed to promoting sustainable development and our understanding of our duties under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act. This proposal demonstrates the Council's approach to sustainable development and the five ways of working introduced by the Act. The proposal seeks to take into consideration the long-term sustainability of sports facilities in the Vale of Glamorgan and recognises the importance of such facilities in delivering a healthier Wales and the role these facilities have in a Wales of cohesive communities. In light of increasing pressures on the Council's budgets, taking an integrated approach to the way the Council operates these kinds of facilities will be vital. The report outlines how clubs/organisations will be involved in the development of collaborative working opportunities to ensure the long-term sustainability of the facilities and the Council's ability to fund other services. From an environmental perspective, the Council has been working towards significantly reducing the levels of pesticides and certain types of fertilizers used on its sports pitches for a number of years. Any club/ organisation looking to undertake the maintenance of facilities themselves would be expected to adhere to this policy and specific instructions will be provided.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. There are important legal implications associated with this report. The Council's Community Asset Transfer protocol is current under review with the intention to provide a more efficient and effective 'fast track' process to assist with appropriate transfers.
  2. Individual clubs undertaking maintenance themselves would be subject to specific legal agreements relating to the level and condition that pitches and facilities would need to be maintained at.
  3. Some clubs/organisations have existing leases or other legal arrangements for assets (such as clubhouses) at some of the sites. These will be considered by the Council's legal and estate services teams when drawing up any additional legal agreements required as a result of these proposals.
  4. This report recommends that delegated authority be given to the Head of Legal Service to draft and execute revised agreements where appropriate.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. The opportunity for young people to take part in physical activity is recognised as having a positive impact on crime and disorder issues which have an impact on society as a whole.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. As part of developing these proposals, an Equality Impact Assessment has been scoped. Given the varying nature of the facilities and locations, there will be different implications associated with each. As such, it is proposed that Equality Impact Assessments will be completed to accompany changes to specific facilities, reflecting local circumstances. These assessments will be informed by the consultation process reflected in the body of this report and reported to Cabinet as appropriate with proposals for any subsequent changes.
  2. Complying with the Council's Equal opportunity policies will be one of the conditions associated with clubs/ organisations managing local facilities.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. Working with sporting clubs in the Vale of Glamorgan is recognised in the Corporate Plan under well-being Outcome 4: an active and healthy Vale, objective 7 encouraging and promoting active and healthy lifestyles.
  2. These proposals will also contribute to the Neighbourhood Service's Service Plan (2018-2023) which is seeking to further actions in accordance with this well-being objective and deliver significant financial savings as part of the Reshaping Services Programme.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This report is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. No local ward Members have been consulted on this proposal as the proposals are Vale of Glamorgan wide.
  2. It is recommended that Cabinet refer this report to the Community Liaison Committee and Scrutiny Committee (Healthy Living and Social care) for consultation prior to reaching a final determination.
  3. The approach to engaging and consulting with individual organisations/clubs, in order to support them through the changes described, is outlined within the body of the report.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Healthy Living and Social Care

Background Papers

Income Generation and Commercial Opportunities Strategy, Cabinet, 23rd October 2017

http://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/Documents/_Committee%20Reports/Cabinet/2017/17-10-23/Reports/Income-Generation-Commercial-Opportunities-Strategy-2017-2020-Cabinet-Report.pdf

Contact Officer

David Knevett - Operational Manager, Leisure Services

Tel: 01446 704 817

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager: Property

Legal Services - Committee Reports

Visible Services - Accountant

Operational Manager - Performance and Policy

Head of Finance

Managing Director

Operational Manager - Regeneration

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing Services.