Following recent consultation with residents in Ashfield, at Cabinet on Thursday, 19th January, proposals for Huthwaite and Edgewood Leisure centre will be considered.
The proposal for Huthwaite seeks Cabinet approval to invite community groups or other interested parties to submit a sustainable business plan to the Council for the potential future operation of the Huthwaite Leisure Centre site. The Council will be requiring the plans to be self-sufficient and not require an ongoing subsidy from the Council. The centre currently costs the council £79,930 each year to manage as a leisure centre. The costs per visit are high and amount to £5.23 compared to 0.20 pence for the Lammas leisure centre.
Considerable effort has been put into working with a local community group on developing a sustainable business plan, which unfortunately at this time shows a £40k deficit. The group will have the opportunity to rework the plan and submit it at a later date.
The recent budget and policy consultation included a range of proposals to help Ashfield meet the financial challenges it faces by improving efficiency as well as generating income to help bridge the funding gap from new business ventures. The recent Local Government Financial Settlement has increased the amount of savings the Council will need to find significantly.
To help sustain Leisure provision into the future the Council’s vision is to secure a district-wide network of quality, affordable, accessible and sustainable Leisure Centres and services for the benefit of all residents of Ashfield. Consultation feedback showed 78 per cent of respondents strongly agreeing or agreeing with this vision.
The public consultation also showed support for focusing resources on the three key leisure centres, Lammas, Hucknall and Kirkby with 56% of respondents strongly agreeing or agreeing with this proposal.
Proposals for Edgewood Leisure Centre were also included in the consultation and having reviewed the responses there are no plans to close or make changes to how Edgewood is run. The Council will review the provision of swimming in Hucknall based on the consultation which shows strong support for swimming at Edgewood and in Hucknall generally.
Portfolio holder for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr. Jim Aspinall commented “As a Council we provide a fantastic level of leisure provision especially at our three main centres. However, the current level of provision is unaffordable given the huge cuts to our budgets. This proposal will help us protect the major centres while offering community groups and others the chance to identify a different business model for Huthwaite”
“Ensuring everyone in Ashfield has access to good health and leisure facilities is a priority but we cannot continue on in the same way as before due to budget cuts that keep coming. It is essential that we provide effective infrastructure to help deliver on our aims for health and wellbeing in the district as a whole and we believe this proposal would help us do that.”
In the recent local government Financial Settlement announcement from central government, further funding cuts for local councils only adds to the huge financial challenges already faced and means that the Council has to re-visit its budget.
Leader of the Council, Cheryl Butler said: “This recent announcement will have a significant impact on the Council’s budget because no extra money has been provided by Government to tackle shortfalls in its social care funding and instead cuts are being made to the new homes bonus scheme, which councils like ADC rely on to fund their services.
“We have demonstrated in the past few years that we have been able to work hard to continue delivering highly valued services, finding savings and making efficiencies. And we have done this while avoiding having to cut services as a number of other councils have done.
“It is not possible to continue on in the same way as before. We are facing more and more cuts and this means we have to now consider the impact of these latest funding cuts as we investigate new ways of working and generate much-needed income to try and bridge this gap and continue to provide quality services our residents rely on.
“There is no doubt that we now face some very, very difficult decisions. District Councils that rely on New Homes Bonus to fund services are especially hard hit by the latest announcements and it a real possibility that services could soon be under threat.”