West Dorset Web Home PageYour feedback is welcomeEvent Guide - What's on in West DorsetSearch this site or worldwideWest Dorset Tourism WebsiteWest Dorset Press ReleasesDorset Business Directory and Other useful pagesWDDC Detailed InformationA to Z of services and other useful linksWest Dorset Web Home Page

WEST

DORSET DISTRICT COUNCIL

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE

- 5 DECEMBER 2000

REPORT OF THE LEISURE & TOURISM MANAGER

COMMUNITY USE OF SPORTS FACILITIES AT WOODROFFE SCHOOL, LYME REGIS

FOR DECISION

1. PURPOSE OF THE REPORT

1.1. To seek Members' views on a proposal to allow the sporting facilities at the Woodroffe School in Lyme Regis to be made available for community use.

2. SUMMARY PROPOSAL

2.1. Recommendation

That further negotiations with Dorset County Council and the Woodroffe School are endorsed in order to identify
the capital cost of securing community use of the new sports hall
the facilities to be included in any `dual use agreement'
the most appropriate form of management of community use

2.2. Corporate Objective

Promoting Recreation and Community Fulfilment. Sports Strategy objective.

2.3. Statutory Power

Physical Recreation & Training Acts 1937 & 1958

2.4. Finance

New capital funding may be required of approximately 136,000. Revenue contribution could be 0 - 40,000 depending on nature of community use.

2.5. Personnel

Not applicable at this stage

2.6. Liaison

Headteacher, Woodroffe School
Finance Division
Manager, Bridport Leisure Centre

2.7. Human Rights

Not applicable

2.8. Health and Safety

Not applicable at this stage

3. INTRODUCTION

3.1. It has been acknowledged that there is a shortage of indoor and outdoor sports facilities in Lyme Regis. Outdoor facilities are restricted to one senior football pitch at Charmouth Road, one junior football pitch at Anning Road, a cricket pitch at Uplyme and an outdoor bowls facility. There are no outdoor hard courts or all weather surfaces. The nearest public indoor sports facilities are at Bridport and Axminster.

3.2. This general lack of facilities was recognised in the research undertaken for the Council's Sports Strategy, The Sporting Challenge. In the residents' survey, for example, general facilities at Lyme Regis (including a sports/leisure centre) were the most requested new facility in the western area. In the club survey, more and/or improved sports pitches were regarded as the most important issue. These views were also reiterated by the Town Council; their response called for a wide range of indoor and outdoor facilities to be provided.

3.3. The under-provision of general sports facilities in Lyme Regis was acknowledged in the Sports Strategy's action plan and the town was identified as a Sports Action Zone (SAZ). Within the Lyme Regis SAZ, the Strategy contained a recommendation for the District Council to lead on a project to create community access to the new sports facilities recently provided at the Woodroffe School, the town's secondary school.

3.4. To that end, officers from the Leisure and Tourism Division have recently had an exploratory meeting with the Headteacher and members of the School's Premises Committee. The Headteacher explained that he is very keen for the community to be able to use the School's new sports facilities and that, where possible, he had tried to ensure that this possibility had been incorporated into their design. He said that he would also like the community to be able to use the School's sports pitches and other facilities. As a grant maintained school, Woodroffe built a new sports hall in 1999 with no Council or lottery financial support or input. Following a change of Central Government policy, Woodroffe is now regarded as an LEA school.

3.5. The Headteacher's proposal is that the School and West Dorset District Council enter into an agreement whereby the Council manage the facilities in much the same way as the dual use leisure centres at Dorchester and Sherborne. The School, which has approximately 870 pupils, would be seeking to derive some income from community use. The legal position is that the school is not permitted to subsidise community use of its sports facilities. The facilities available are:

New sports complex

3 court 10m high sports hall - to county badminton standard, incorporating:

_ cricket nets

_ basketball

_ viewing gallery

_ large storage

Small fitness suite, incorporating:

_ free weights

_ resistance equipment x 6

_ CV equipment x 6 (rowing, cycle, step x 2 each)

School/community room (larger than fitness suite).

Male and female changing room/showers/toilets - these are currently used for outdoor and indoor activities.

Front office/reception.

Additional facilities

2 outside tarmac court areas (not floodlit).

Outdoor heated swimming pool.

Traditional gym (in school) with changing rooms/showers/WC.

New Drama Studio - capable of seating 70 for performances.

Sports pitches for hockey/football/rugby - on site changing/shower facilities almost completed.

4. ISSUES

4.1. The first barrier to providing community use of Woodroffe School's new sports facilities is complex and relates to VAT. In building the new facilities the School was exempt from paying VAT. HM Customs & Excise have advised the School that they are permitted to allow community use of the facilities up to a maximum of 10% of the time available - this equates to approximately 400 hours a year. If the facilities are to be used by the community for more than this 10% then the School will be liable to pay VAT on the capital cost of the facilities. For the sports element of this new build, this is estimated at 96,000 and the School would be looking for the District Council to provide funding.

4.2. This ruling from HM Customs & Excise has not been challenged. Initial advice from the Finance Division suggests that there might be some room for negotiation on this issue.

4.3. If the VAT issue can be addressed, the school and the District Council will need to decide how community use could most appropriately be managed and to decide which facilities should be included in any `dual use agreement'. The management options are:

Community use managed by the school - this is common practice in many schools, but use is normally restricted to clubs who can pre-book and supervise themselves. The facilities are not normally widely promoted or made available on a pay and play basis. This would be the cheaper option, in terms of revenue commitment from the District Council's perspective, probably requiring no revenue input. It should be recognised, however, that only a few people in Lyme Regis belong to local clubs and that use of fitness centres is normally by individuals rather than organisations.

Community use managed by the District Council - this is common if it is thought desirable to allow `pay and play' access for a wider cross section of the community. Staff resources would be needed to supervise users. The Gryphon Leisure Centre operates on these lines and costs the District Council around 40,000 per annum and received 60,000 admissions last year. Some costs, such as electricity and rates, would be shared between the County Council, the District Council and the school, while it is normal practice for the District Council to derive all income generated. The District Council could appoint a trust, such as the Bridport and West Dorset Sports Trust Limited, to manage community use on its behalf subject to agreement with the school.

4.4. Although a range of facilities at Woodroffe School could be made available to the general public, it is the dry facilities - new Sports Hall and possibly tennis courts - which the District Council sees as a priority. The sports pitch issue (Lyme Regis Football Club's ground is deteriorating due to land slides) is being addressed by the Town Council and Lyme Regis Football Club, while although improved access to a swimming pool in Lyme Regis is welcomed, it is not possible for the District Council to revenue fund swimming provision in Lyme Regis because of its significant commitment to Bridport Leisure Centre. The pool here provides for a 20 minute drive time catchment area, including Lyme Regis.

4.5. The provision of sports pitches in West Dorset is generally the responsibility of Town and Parish Councils. It would, therefore, seem appropriate for the community use of the School's pitches to be managed through a partnership including Lyme Regis Town Council and possibly the Football Club.

5. SUMMARY OF OPTIONS AVAILABLE

5.1. Assuming that land was available, the provision of new-build community sports facilities in Lyme Regis would cost in the region of 1,000,000. The Woodroffe School proposal would require a capital sum from the District Council of, say, up to 136,000 (96,000 VAT plus 40,000 other work). The Woodroffe School proposal, therefore, provides a cost effective means (in terms of capital) of providing such facilities for the local community. At this stage there would therefore appear to be two options:

a) Continue discussions with the Woodroffe School, Dorset County Council and possibly the Bridport & West Dorset Sports Trust on ways in which the School's sports facilities can be extended for community use. In doing so it is acknowledged that the provision of such facilities will probably require capital funding from the District Council. This issue would be discussed with HM Customs & Excise.

b) Acknowledge that there is little likelihood of the District Council being able to provide capital and revenue funding for community sports facilities in Lyme Regis and, therefore, discontinue discussions with the Woodroffe School.

6. CONCLUSIONS

6.1. There is an acknowledged under-provision of sports facilities in Lyme Regis and the provision of community sports facilities in the town is identified as a priority in the Council's new Sports Strategy. It is unlikely that the District Council will be able to provide such facilities, through new-build, in the foreseeable future. There is an opportunity, however, of developing a partnership to extend the use of the Woodroffe School's facilities to the community. This would probably require capital funding and there would also be ongoing revenue implications if the District Council wishes to ensure that these facilities are available to a wide cross section of the local community.

6.2. If Members wish to progress this project a further report on the outcome of negotiations with Woodroffe School will be made to the Community Development Committee early in the New Year.

Nick Thornley

Leisure & Tourism Manager

Any questions arising from this report should be directed to Graham Gould on (01305) 252444.

Top Of Page