Agenda Item No. 9

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 3RD SEPTEMBER 2018

 

REFERENCE FROM HEALTHY LIVING AND SOCIAL CARE SCRUTINY COMMITTEE: 10TH JULY, 2018

 

 

“135    RESHAPING SERVICES: A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH TO THE PROVISION OF SINGLE USER OUTDOOR SPORTS FACILITIES (REF) –

 

Cabinet, on 2nd July, 2018, considered the report which brought to the attention of Cabinet the costs incurred in maintaining and providing sites and facilities that were predominantly for the benefit of single clubs and organisations.  Cabinet had subsequently referred this issue on to the Scrutiny Committee for its consideration prior to final determination. 

 

The Operational Manager for Neighbourhood Services, Healthy Living and Performance presented the report which indicated that there were a number of private sports clubs in the Vale of Glamorgan that provided outdoor sports provision and had active junior / youth sections but did not benefit from any direct subsidy from the Council.  There were, however, a number of clubs / organisations that had almost exclusive use of some Council owned facilities.  The manner in which the Council managed such assets did not reflect the need to ensure that budgets were used effectively.  Notably, fees which were charged fell well short of covering the costs of operating these facilities.

 

Attached at Appendix A to the report was a breakdown of Council owned outdoor single use sport sites which were in the scope of the proposals.

 

The level of subsidies afforded to single use facilities varied depending upon the location and type of sport.  However, for bowling greens, the level of subsidy was approximately £25k per annum.  For large, fine turfed sports fields the costs to maintain and manage these facilities was approximately £80k per annum.  The income from these facilities fell short of the cost to operate.  This was estimated to result in a net cost to the Council of approximately £400k per annum.

 

It was therefore proposed that the Council would amend the fees charged to clubs and organisations for single use facilities from the current level to the actual cost of operating and maintaining these (after any income), from 1st April, 2019. 

 

It was proposed for the Council to initially make contact with the existing users of the facilities identified within Appendix A with details of the current costs of maintaining an operating these sites to be shared in order that the organisations and clubs are encouraged to explore the opportunity to take over the management of these facilities from 1st April, 2019.  This would be subject to agreement that ensured that they were maintained to a satisfactory condition.

 

Discussions would be undertaken on a facility by facility basis, reflecting the varying agreements currently in place and would also enable an Equality Impact Assessment to be developed which reflected the specific local circumstances of the facility. 

 

In recognising that this would be a significant change, the Council’s preference was to provide clubs / organisations with the opportunity to maintain the facility themselves. 

 

To assist clubs / organisations which wished to adopt this scenario, the Council was 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.  In addition, signposting to organisations such as the Glamorgan Voluntary Service would take place in order to provide advice and support in the development of business cases for the running of facilities for potential sources of income. 

 

It was also reported that it was likely, particularly for bowls, that the current level of single user provision at individual sites was unsustainable.  Where it was clear, from initial meetings, that this was the case, the option of consolidation of facilities would be discussed with the clubs / organisations concerned so that they would be supported to bring new arrangements into effect. 

 

Consultation would also be encouraged with Town and Community Councils and the Voluntary Sector, particularly where it was apparent that a single use sports facility may be unaffordable to the club / organisation currently occupying the site, or where the capacity and skills did not exist to allow that club or organisation to progress by way of a Community Asset Transfer or lease agreement.  Such discussions would also likely include potential alternative approaches, including whether the Town / Community Council or another voluntary group could manage the facility or provide financial support to the club or organisation. 

 

The Committee queried the possible transfer of assets at Corntown, with a Member advising that information on the costs had not been forthcoming from the Council.  In reply, the Operational Manager stated that he was aware of this and the issue related to some of the site not being used since the 1990s. 

 

A Committee Member asked why it appeared that fees had not increased for many years.  In reply, the Operational Manager stated that fees had increased but there had not been a review of the costs associated to run each facility.

 

In reply to a query regarding progress around the transfer of Barry Athletics Club, the Operational Manager stated that it was unclear whether a full Community Asset Transfer was necessary in this case, and so, other possible options were being explored.

 

Discussion then ensued around the proposals and the following points were made: 

  • The organisations and clubs in question were small in comparison, and so, would not always be willing to go through the Community Asset Transfer route.  Faced with an increase in fees and with low capital, the Committee expressed concern of the support available in these scenarios;
  • Some Town and Community Councils had already applied for the transfer of facilities with proposals rejected by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.  This had caused some Town and Community Councils to question the process and so were unwilling to partake in any further opportunities;
  • There was a need to be more specific around staff transferring to TUPE and also in regard to the impact on staff;
  • The Committee questioned the definition of a single use sports facility and Members provided examples where facilities were used by multiple organisations and had events held regularly;
  • There was a query regarding Rights of Way access;
  • The Committee was concerned with the lack of detail provided in respect of the costs and the use of each individual site and a request was made for more information to be gathered and presented to the Committee prior to any decision be made;
  • There was concern with the impact on mass participation sports such as rugby and football which in terms of player numbers were already facing significant pressures;
  • The facilities in question were community facilities that were of benefit to a number of people in the local population;
  • The Council’s proposals could make some of the facilities unaffordable;
  • The Committee requested that all possible avenues be explored with each individual organisation / club, which in the first instance should include consideration of fees;
  • There should be a detailed analysis on the impact of any possible increase in  fees;
  • The Council should facilitate meetings with all clubs and organisations in order to gather their views of the proposals;
  • The Council should also look at why participation in some sports were dwindling.

In response to some of the points raised, the Operational Manager stated that the aim of the proposals were not to take away or change the ability of people to partake in sport or to make these facilities unaffordable.  He assured the Committee that meetings would be held with all clubs / organisations in order to hear their views and to explore all options.  He also agreed that there was not a clear definition around the use of single use sports facilities but this would be considered as part of contact with the clubs / organisations. 

 

In summary, following consideration of the report, the Committee agreed that the proposals should be referred back to Cabinet asking for a further detailed analysis to be undertaken of all costs and use associated with the facilities, and for this to be reported back to the Committee.  This further report should also include reference to the Council’s well-being objectives.  The Committee also felt that it was vital for clubs / organisations to be contacted on a 1:1 basis in order to explore all other options beforehand and for more information to be presented on how the Council could support them.

 

Subsequently, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T Cabinet be advised of the Committee’s view that a more detailed cost base analysis should be undertaken for each individual site referred to in Appendix A.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be advised that detailed discussions should take place with each individual club / organisation in order to gather their views and also to understand what options were available.

 

(3)       T H A T a further report on this matter to be presented to the Scrutiny Committee prior to any final determination.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In order that a more detailed analysis of the associated costs be undertaken.

 

(2)       In order that the views of each individual club / organisation is considered.

 

(3)       In order for the Committee to consider the views of each individual club / organisation and also the costs associated with each individual site.”