Sports Hall Could Be Run By Community Interest Group

The Queen Elizabeth II Sports Hall

The Queen Elizabeth II Sports Hall

The sports hall may not be operated by the Council in the future says Community Services director, Penny Penn-Howard.

She told councillors attending the Policy and Resources committee that her staff were scrutinising the hall’s costs and assessing whether it could be hived off into a community interest company. That would reduce the sports hall’s reliance on Council support and the cost to the ratepayer.

The change could also potentially attract rates relief for a new operating body.

Penny warned it was, “a big piece of work” and wouldn’t be achieved by 1st April this year.

All Council services including sports facilities, and planning and development, will need to reduce spending.

Vice chairman Amanda Martin told councillors that she wanted the words, “saving money” imprinted on every members’ forehead.

That’s because the amount of funding the government allocates to our Council will be lower than originally thought.

The first figures, released in December, outlined a 1.5% grant reduction of around £71,500. But more details have since emerged and the situation is worse, although the full impact of funding changes is still not clear.

Head of finance Iain McCulloch told Councillors, “the most fundamental change to local government finance in 20 years” was being introduced.

Currently, the Town Hall collects business rates and passes all of the money to government. In the future, our Council will be incentivised to encourage business growth and they will retain a 50% share of new businesses rates.

But business growth is limited here and under the changes, the Council will have to subsidise the government for any uncollected payments for businesses that go bust, won’t pay or that receive business rate reductions.

That could cost £100,000 although there’ll be a safety net in case a major business defaults.

Chairman Mike Hicks warned that the Council was being, “backed into a corner” and claimed  that they may have to increase business rates, adding to problems following a difficult trading year.

But Iain McCulloch advised that the Council cannot vary businesses rates. They will still be set independently.

Councillor Martin repeated her warning that every department needs to, “future proof” itself.

The Children and Young Persons’ committee has already made £183,000 of savings.


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