Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 23, 2018

Six Years And Waiting

WLBC has a Council Plan 2018-21 on the Full Council agenda this week. As ever it includes leisure facilities. Under the heading “Developing new leisure facilities as health and wellbeing hubs” it states “Significant physical improvements to the borough can be achieved through replacement leisure facilities in Skelmersdale and Ormskirk. Our leisure facilities are the biggest assets we have for supporting and encouraging people of all ages to live active lives and enjoy healthy lifestyles.

“Collaborating with the West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group around options for incorporating a health centre/doctors surgery into the facilities will in the longer term provide a wider range of opportunities for further promoting health and wellbeing in the community and also help to reduce build and operational costs. 2018/19 will see: Completion of soft market testing. Business case development. Completion of design process. Progression to next phase of design and procurement”. Impressed? Don’t be! Remember the leisure development case for the Beacon Park Golf Course?

“Relevant Portfolio Holder: Councillor D Sudworth. Corporate & Environmental Overview & Scrutiny Committee. Members Update 2012/13.

“The trust partners have examined the previous financial years and membership records of the golf course. The information provided by DCT confirmed that the golf course had been losing money during the past two years, as a result of falling memberships and increasing costs. An assessment undertaken by Serco indicated that the finance position of the golf course would improve under a trust arrangement, providing savings for rates (NNDR) and improvement towards VAT payments. However the underlying trend of reduced memberships would need to be reversed together with improvement across casual income lines in order to ensure long term viability.

“The arrangements previously negotiated by DCT for the land drainage work with Oaklands leisure [Oakland Golf & Leisure Ltd] provided an opportunity to improve facilities, retain or increase future membership and increase income. Serco have now concluded their discussions with Oaklands Leisure and have been able to project a positive financial position in future years. However the initial years of the improvement works will require Serco to cover operating losses.

“Serco have proposed a surplus income share arrangement. They have not included any management fees in the cost of the operation and have agreed to absorb any losses incurred within the golf course arrangement during the contract period. The surplus income share is based on 3rds (thirds) distributed equally to West Lancashire Borough Council, West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust and Serco Leisure Operating Limited.

“The proposal includes investment into the golf course and facilities, reshaping of the landform to enhance existing golf holes and practice facilities and create a new 9 hole short course. Remodelled driving range outfield and target greens . Provision to enhance internal facilities in the golf club house and entrance area. The work is to be phased in over two years 2013-15 and has an estimated investment/enhancement value for the golf course of approximately £500,000”.

Before we get more pie in the sky as in “We will engage and empower our local communities to “Sustain leisure facilities where possible through different models of service delivery and budget control” might we conclude there will be no one third of anything proposed by the existing model provided by Serco and West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust, and the concept of their landfill created none playable 9Hole course and none playable footgolf course both needing re-profiling is unacceptable to West Lancashire council tax payers? Six years and waiting? Or enough is enough!

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