16th December 2008
Portishead Open Air Pool (Agenda Item 13(11))
The Chairman ruled that a report on the matter be considered as an urgent item because a decision might have implications for the Council’s contractors and arrangements for opening in the Summer of 2009, including the possible setting up of a trust; there were also budget implications for 2009/10 and future years and these need to be addressed during the Budget 2009/10 setting process.
The Executive received and considered minute COM 27 of the Community Services Policy and Scrutiny Panel and minute SPE 41 of the Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel.
The Chairman reported that he had received a petition that was in the following terms:
“We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our leaders to act now to halt the closure of Portishead Pool”.
Councillor Ap Rees presented a report. He outlined the factors that the Council had to take into account in determining the matter; the principal issue was the continuing cost, which was unsustainable, and the need to develop the facilities at the Parish Wharf Leisure Centre. He emphasised that the closure of any leisure facility was always a matter of regret but the Council had to establish priorities having regard to financial realities.
A Member raised the issue of whether Portishead Town Council had been consulted or invited to contribute to the cost of running the pool. Members were assured that the Town Council was well aware of the situation.
The Member in whose ward the pool was situated was critical of the Review Panel report, its conclusions, the activities of the management contractor and the Council’s approach to the operation and maintenance of the pool during recent years in a number of areas.
Councillor Ap Rees responded to the points raised and discounted some of them. He emphasised that it was not in the contractor’s interest to under develop or mismanage the facility; the contrary was the case.
The Director of Development and Environment referred to the Council’s policy to operate leisure centres using management contractors. They ran facilities on a commercial basis and were required to adhere to the terms of their contracts. This included regular monitoring of contract performance and the development of partnering arrangements.
(1) that it be indicated that it is the Council’s intention to close the pool (i.e. not to re-open it in 2009) but to allow a time-limited window of opportunity to hold discussions with the newly formed Portishead Pool Community Trust to determine whether proposals to take over the pool are realistic and sustainable, and then to either –
(a) proceed to transfer the pool to a Community Trust, with or without a phased subsidy, to be agreed following consideration of the Trust’s business plan, or
(b) proceed to limited demolition and landscaping of the site, prior to marketing, disposal and redevelopment in due course; and
(2) that the above decision be reported to the Community Services Policy and Scrutiny Panel and the Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel.