Wincanton Sports Ground Update
The Locality Manager presented the report to Members. He explained that a governance review in 2017, sponsored by Area East gave recommendations that had been adopted and actioned, and the organisation had changed from a trust to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. This meant they were then eligible for rate relief and therefore lower business rate costs. A management committee had also been established to deal with the day to day operation.
The pandemic had greatly impacted the sports ground in terms of reduced income. They had received Government funded business grants during each lockdown, £25000 in the first lockdown and around £15 000 during the tier system and second lockdown.
The appendix in the report confirmed that one of the main challenges was the age and configuration of the building, with little or no funds in reserves for repairs and maintenance.
He explained that is was difficult to assess the need for support at this time as the new operating model had little time to be embedded. He recommended a further report in 6-12 months when there was a clearer picture. In the meantime, they could seek Section 106 funds for changing room and pitch provision, and look at the possibility of a capital grant to help with some improvements required.
A representative from The Wincanton Sports Trust addressed Members and informed them that the sports ground management company did still exist but the process of closing this had started. He anticipated that the income for the upcoming year would be about £16,000 and that unavoidable outgoings, based on last year’s figures would be £28,000 - £29,000. Income would normally be made up from bar sales, the hiring of the facilities, and donations from members of the public. The figures did not include any provision for maintenance and repairs. Any assistance that the District Council could bring to support would be appreciated.
The Chairman explained to Members that under a previous agreement, SSDC would provide support to the sports centre and the Wincanton Town Council would support the sports ground.
Councillor Colin Winder recalled a meeting held at Churchfields some time ago when the agreement was made between all representatives. He said that he had a copy of the minutes and he would pass a copy to the sports trust so they could discuss this with the Town Council.
In response to Members questions, the representative for the Sports ground gave the following information:
· The Sports ground would be survivable over the next 6 months.
· The Pavilion cost a lot of money to maintain and was too large for the number of users, but would also be too expensive to change this.
· Regarding the land that was owned by County Council, Alder King and other local land owners were looking to review any developer interest.
· They had received the second half of the grant from Town Council for this year, but they had precepted less for the coming year than last year and felt there was a reluctance to provide rate support grant for sports facilities.
· Youth football teams had chosen to leave the sports ground as they had found a cheaper alternative site.
The Locality Manager responded to questions from Members and some of his comments included:
· Looking for available funds through a grant finder search – Health and Well-being grants. Somerset Community Foundation were a good source of information for funds.
· The fund balance in the report included the total assets.
· An agreement had been made for the District Council to support the sports centre and Town Council to support the sports ground. There was no requirement for the Committee to support the sports ground financially but the District Council would work more closely with the sports ground if required.
· There could be an opportunity between the Sports Centre and Sports ground to work closer together.
Ward Member Councillor Nick Colbert suggested that the sports centre and sports ground should work together and be run under one management team. There was now a new management company taking over the sports centre who could be approached.
The Chairman for the Sports Trust informed Members that the old company had been approached but did not see it as able to generate income but that he would approach the new one when they take over.
One Member agreed and suggested Area East could support these discussions with the new management company to see what arrangements could be made. Outdoor facilities would be extremely important post pandemic.
Ward Member Councillor Colin Winder asked if a meeting could be arranged with the Town and District Council and Ward Members to support the Sports Trust in discussions regarding funding and grants.
The Chairman suggested a report be brought back later in the year to Area East with a further update on the Sports Ground. He asked that a meeting be organised by the Locality team with all involved parties regarding funds and grants.
The Locality Manager responded to a Members query about CIL and 106 funds and agreed that the figures could be shared with Area East once they are available.
Members agreed to add a recommendation that a report would be presented to Area East in the next 6-9 months to detail any updates and how the Sports ground could be further supported by the District Council. The Area East Committee agreed unanimously to this additional recommendation.
a. Members noted the report
b. Members agreed to a further report in 6-9 months on how the District Council could further support the Wincanton Sports ground.
To update Members on the current support and financing of the Wincanton Sports Ground.