News, Talking Point — December 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm — Updated: December 30, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Council statement on Clwyd Leisure attractions

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Council statement on Clwyd Leisure attractions

Denbighshire County Council has issued an official response to criticisms made by Clwyd Leisure Ltd (CLL) relating to three facilities run by CLL on the coast (Rhyl Sun Centre and the Nova Centre and North Wales Indoor Bowls Centre, Prestatyn).

Denbighshire County Council’s Corporate Director – Communities, Hywyn Williams, said: “We were both shocked and disappointed to be told by the press about this situation late on Friday, particularly when the Council has been actively involved in discussions about the future of the organisation with the Board.

“We are clearly sad that Clwyd Leisure Ltd (CLL) has got to this point, and if it does go into administration, as it has suggested, we would want the company to deal fairly and effectively with its workforce and this process.

“CLL has known about the reduction in funding, like all other arms length organisations, for at least 3 years. The subsidy reduction was agreed by Full Council and has consistently featured in the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan – there  is nothing new here and this is a public document.

“CLL has received more direct support than other arms length organisation to deal with this reduction in a measured and timely way. It has chosen not to face the reality of the efficiency agenda that is facing all public services at present.

“During the first year of the funding reduction, we supported the company, by not actioning the saving.  It was used instead to pay for the repairs to the Suncentre roof – a reasonable, supportive and practical step taken by the Council.

Jamie Groves, Denbighshire’s Head of Communication, Marketing and Leisure, said: “We’re clearly not happy with the standards at those facilities – our residents and visitors deserve better and I think in its 11 years of being, the company should have invested more sensibly to improve the offer – we cannot and will not fund such poor standards.

“We are saddened that CLL finds itself in this position but ultimately, the company is accountable for the position it finds itself in and the board should reflect upon how it got to this stage.

“I can reassure everyone, however, that we will continue to work with Members and officers on an improved offer for the coast.”

Councillor Huw Jones, Cabinet Lead Member for Leisure, said: “The Council has conducted supported reviews of CLL, with the support of the Company, and we have identified a number of serious concerns about the management of the Company, and recommendations from those reviews have not been actioned in full. Ineffective management and leadership lies at the heart of why CLL are in this position today.  The Council will not continue to fund failure.

“The £50k reduction they have been asked to make amounts to 2.8% of their turnover, so any organisation with effective management and leadership should be able to deal with such a reduction – especially as the Council is having to make savings in the region of £8m in the next financial year alone”.

Hywyn Williams added: “To set all this in context, Denbighshire runs 7 leisure centres throughout the year (50 weeks) with a current subsidy of £500k,  (Inc investments) while the CLL subsidy has been £295k per annum to run 3 facilities, the Suncentre only being open for 15 weeks a year.

“The reduction in subsidy to DCC run leisure centres amounts to a £100k saving per year over the last six years, whereas the reduction for CLL only amounts to £50k during the same period.  CLL have opted to bury their heads in the sand in the hope the challenge will just go away.It is the Council’s opinion that the Board of CLL should have coped easily with the subsidy reduction, had the will and ability to do so been there.

“Despite the subsidy reduction to the Council run facilities, Denbighshire has invested in better facilities and employed more staff to respond to the increase in business and there is no threat to any leisure centre within the County. This is different to many local authorities.

“Critically, CLL have intimated that they may go into administration and we will be keen to work with the administrator to develop an interim solution.

“Indeed, Denbighshire has very ambitious plans to improve the facilities at the Nova, Prestatyn and Suncentre, Rhyl, which also links to improvements to the Pavilion Theatre. There is therefore a real commitment by this Council to make sure that the leisure offer in Denbighshire is second to none, no matter who runs the facilities”.

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