Talking West Cheshire

Community interest company to manage leisure facilities could save taxpayers' cash - Executive told

6 September 2010

Management of all sports and leisure facilities across Cheshire West and Chester could be transferred to a newly formed Community Interest Company.

And if the move is agreed by Cheshire West and Chester Executive next Wednesday (8 September) it will save Council taxpayers around £500,000 a year.

A report from Culture and Regeneration Director, Charlie Seward, revealed that a not-for-profit company would be liable for national non-domestic rate relief - "A considerable saving in operational costs".

In June, the Executive decided on an open market procurement to identify the most efficient delivery mechanism for all its stock, then managed either in-house in Northwich and Winsford, or by CADSART in Ellesmere Port and Chester.

However, CADSART has decided to cease trading on 3 October, providing an opportunity to establish management harmonisation through a different process.

Mr Seward, said: "The recommendation offers a clear pathway to achieving continuity of service management and to obtain an optimum tax solution - paramount following the notification of CADSART to cease trading.

"It will also assist in securing excellence in service delivery for the residents of Cheshire West and Chester in terms of leisure provision."

If the Executive backs the establishment of a new Community Interest Company it will take four months to create.

CADSART staff would transfer under TUPE arrangements into the Council's employment next month (October) and will remain until a new company is established, probably January next year.

Cllr Richard Short, Culture and Recreation Executive Member, said: "Development of a Community Interest Company will provide a vital opportunity to help shape this authority's new approach to its vital localism agenda."

The board of a Community Interest Company - said to best meet the Council's needs in the short and longer term - both would be appointed from the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Should the Executive approve the recommendation the Council will be working with user groups and other stake holders to help design the new company.

Such a company would have an asset lock in its constitution protecting its true value of its assets and provides greater opportunity for public scrutiny being obliged to produce an annual community interest report.

The Executive is also asked to authorise the transfer of CADSART business and assets to the Council.

The latter includes Epic Leisure Centre, Ellesmere Port Golf Course, Neston Recreation Centre, Northgate Arena Leisure Centre, Christleton Joint Use Sports Facility, Malpas Joint Use Sports Facilities, Woodford Lodge Joint Use Sports Facilities and Westminster Park Golf Club Facilities.

Managed in-house are Frodsham Leisure Centre, Knights Grange Sports Complex, Moss Farm Leisure Complex, Rudheath Joint Use Facility, Stanney Joint Use Facility and Winsford Lifestyle Centre.