Author Topic: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?  (Read 16855 times)

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Offline Mart

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2011, 07:58:07 AM »
Up early, boiler man coming to finish off.

Mmmm, heat, s'lovely.

Anyway, so much misdirected energy, focus, determination and effort to reach preset goals. Now, if only this highly commendable zeal and vigour could be put to work in our interests.

Allegedly of course because I could be a paranoid conspiracy freak. Well suited to high political position come to think of it.

Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don’t know what your rights are, or who the person is you’re talking to. Then, on the way out, slam the door.

Offline Muggins

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #21 on: March 05, 2011, 08:41:34 AM »
Ringer: "Does anyone understand this about the Trustees changing the status? Does that mean the Swindon Borough council had nothing to do with this?

Quote
A SPORTS centre is seeking to change its status.

The Trustees of the Highworth Recreation Centre Charitable Trust are proposing to change from being a charitable trust to a private company with limited liability and charitable status subject to the approval of the Charity Commission"

Yes, I understand this bit Ringer.  I'm not sure about about the 'Charitable Trust'. If the Higworth Rec belongs to the Borough and I fancy it does, then no group of local people would have got their hands on it without having some sort of group structure/legal persona and they might have started off as a charitable trust.  They would not have been given the Rec, proabably not even a lease, but a'tenancy at will' so the ownershipstays with the borough and the management with the group.   Still waiting for that Community Asset Transfer Policy!!! Been  waiting over two years now!!!

Obviously the 'Tenancy at will' is a legal document and sets out the 'rules of engagement'  if it's like the one's I see, it's a 'you are responsible for this and we are responsible for that'  and 'you can give it back and we can take it back in such and such a time' (usually not a long time!) They are restrictive because the short promised tenancy means that groups running buildings etc. cannot get funding to make improvements to building etc. 

The change from Charitable trust "to private company with limited liability and charitable status subject to the approval of the Charity Commission" is a wise one. 

It gives th trustees a protection as there is a limites liability restriction. This only works of course if the trustees show a 'duty of care'. It also puts a bit of a burden on the trustees because they have to respond to both charitable and company law and are registered as both. Trustees have to comply with the financial and annual reporting commitments of both.  Of course this means accounts have to be reported in a particular way and that can actually be quite expensive in bringing in chartered accountants etc. 

In fact really there are so many hoops to jumps through I'm surprised that any group finds themselves in financial trouble or indeed wanting to do it in the first place!

Hope that explains it clearly enough.


 
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Steve Wakefield

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #22 on: March 05, 2011, 08:54:36 AM »
If the Higworth Rec belongs to the Borough

That is the question does it? Has it? Maybe it belongs to Highworth Town Council? Was it Property of Highworth Rural district Council? Was it Thamesdown Borough Council? Anyone know the history? I ask as I am just curious about historical events.
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Offline 20Eyes

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #23 on: March 05, 2011, 09:27:03 AM »
The figures quoted by the Trust themselves are horrifying. If their own marketing manager only claims 200 people actually use the facility, that means the debt alone totals £3,050 subsidy per person who uses the place and the onging cost of subsidy is around £500 per user, per year.

We don't even know how frequently those people use the place, some may only go a few times per year.

Complete madness.
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Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #24 on: March 05, 2011, 09:36:40 AM »
Well suited to high political position come to think of it.

Considering the position of elected Mayor Mart?
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Offline Des Morgan

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #25 on: March 05, 2011, 10:14:38 AM »
Earlier in the week we were told the Council is owed £600k by the trustees of the Highworth Rec.

Today we are told that Mathew Singh or rather his shell company Forefront  Estates has been billed for almost £400k for the work undertaken by SBC on the MI

We also learn that English Heritage will not pay the £250k they 'pledged' to SBC prior to the works being undertaken.

To cap it all the Council wants to find an investor for Digital City in order that the infamous loan of £400k can be re-paid.

One wonders why the Trustees of the Highworth Rec, English Heritage and Digital City are not to be pursued in respect of the debt they owe to the Council whereas Mr Singh, according to a spokesman for the Council “needs to be in no doubt we will pursue this issue through the courts if necessary”. 

What is the difference between the debt owed by each of these parties which allows one for £600k to be written off, one for £250k to be regretted, one for £400k to be the subject of intense effort to find a fairy godmother to pay and one for £400k to be pursued through the courts?


Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #26 on: March 05, 2011, 01:01:35 PM »
What is the difference between the debt owed by each of these parties which allows one for £600k to be written off, one for £250k to be regretted, one for £400k to be the subject of intense effort to find a fairy godmother to pay and one for £400k to be pursued through the courts?

Ultimately Des, I am afraid we are going to discover that where it was deemed electorally popular to 'lend' money out, efforts to recover the money will not be at all strenuous, in fact recent history shows us that good money will be thrown after bad.

Where there is no electoral benefit to be derived the council will use its full weight to get what it wants.



The figures quoted by the Trust themselves are horrifying. If their own marketing manager only claims 200 people actually use the facility, that means the debt alone totals £3,050 subsidy per person who uses the place and the onging cost of subsidy is around £500 per user, per year.

We don't even know how frequently those people use the place, some may only go a few times per year.

Complete madness.
 

I've also been taking a morning stroll through the Highworth Rec accounts and annual reports, and comparing stuff mentioned in them to statements and press releases made by various local politicians in the same time frame.

I think Justin Tomlinson MP may soon need to answer some awkward questions about his time as SBC lead member for leisure, Cllr John Short won't like being put in the spotlight and neither will ex-Mayor of Highworth Steve Weisinger and ex-deputy leader of Swindon Borough Council Fionuala Foley.

Definite smell of fish coming from the Highworth pool.

Offline Muggins

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #27 on: March 05, 2011, 04:52:42 PM »
Just had a look on the CC web site and I'm pretty impressed with their Annual report.  It looks like at least half of the place is SBC owned and it run in partnerships with them.  The shortfall seems due to a roof replacement and a period of shut down due to equipment failure. But apart from that they were on the up and up  both in terms of income generation and numbers - I don't know where you got the 200 figure, 20, but in the report one of their activites had 28,275 visits.  Not only that they have an impressive line up of active people actively involved in their trustees, 'Friends of' and other interested people.

If asked what would you put your money in Muggins in Highworth, it would be the Rec,  not the Wifi.  I might consider moving to Highworth!
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline 20Eyes

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #28 on: March 07, 2011, 08:33:40 AM »
But apart from that they were on the up and up  both in terms of income generation and numbers - I don't know where you got the 200 figure, 20, but in the report one of their activites had 28,275 visits. 

The figures I used were originally quoted in Ringer's post and come from the Trust's own Marketing Officer, so are about the most accurate we could expect to have access to:

Quote
But it is running at a loss and Highworth Recreation Centre Charitable Trust believes only two per cent of the town’s 10,000 people are using the service.

Ann Lewis, the marketing officer for Highworth Recreation Centre, said: “It is hugely disappointing.

200 is 2% of 10,000. The figure of 28,275 visits suggests that the 200 users are, on average, using the facility around once every 2.6 days - which would be in line with what I'd expect for people who use such facilities. Most people who use gyms properly tend to go at least 3 times a week, although many do go five (or more) times a week. If you add in things like five-a-side teams practicing 2 or 3 times a week, you start to see how few people may actually be using the facility.

Not only that they have an impressive line up of active people actively involved in their trustees, 'Friends of' and other interested people.

It'd have to be a very impressive list of names to make it worth £700k of our money in one year alone. Indeed, they'd have to be impressive enough to be the kind of people who would have the means to make such public contributions largely unnecessary.
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Offline Muggins

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #29 on: March 07, 2011, 09:12:50 AM »
 Without spending too much time researching,  if the REc is Borough owned and only aprt of it let to the Trust to manage and with a new roff and a period of underuse due to mechanical failure, plus a new roof and bad weather, I would say that the Borough is more responsible for that then the Trust. If the Trust collapses then the Borough will be managing the lot again.   It will have a new roof on it's building and the chance to make up the money now the mechanical stuff is working better.

I fancy the new roof is the one over what used to be the outdoor pool, so that  alone has extended the usage time.   So long as the people keep using it!
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Ringer

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #30 on: March 07, 2011, 04:55:03 PM »
Without spending too much time researching,  if the REc is Borough owned and only aprt of it let to the Trust to manage and with a new roff and a period of underuse due to mechanical failure, plus a new roof and bad weather, I would say that the Borough is more responsible for that then the Trust. If the Trust collapses then the Borough will be managing the lot again.   It will have a new roof on it's building and the chance to make up the money now the mechanical stuff is working better.

I fancy the new roof is the one over what used to be the outdoor pool, so that  alone has extended the usage time.   So long as the people keep using it!


I think if you read the report to Cabinet the trustees own the freehold of the Rec. Pages 213-238 http://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=4216&T=10&J=14
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Offline Muggins

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #31 on: March 07, 2011, 06:47:28 PM »
Again without having much time to inwardly digest, the Trustees own the freehold to part, SBC own the freehold to another part and Highworth Town Council own the freehold to a third part.

It still comes up looking like a good project thats on the up and serving the area in which it is based, - They could do with more people at weekends, perhaps that's the place to go for a quiet swim?
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #32 on: March 07, 2011, 07:47:44 PM »
Eh?

Offline Mart

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #33 on: March 07, 2011, 08:00:03 PM »
Can do a nice price on the Eiffel Tower if anyone's interested.

Freehold, obviously.
Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don’t know what your rights are, or who the person is you’re talking to. Then, on the way out, slam the door.

Offline Ringer

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #34 on: March 08, 2011, 10:46:43 AM »
Again without having much time to inwardly digest, the Trustees own the freehold to part, SBC own the freehold to another part and Highworth Town Council own the freehold to a third part.

It still comes up looking like a good project thats on the up and serving the area in which it is based, - They could do with more people at weekends, perhaps that's the place to go for a quiet swim?

Muggins

Continuing subsidy of £105,000 per year from SBC and a subsidy of £50,000 from Highworth Town council.  How big would the Penhill splash park be if the £700k was spent in Penhill? Let us have  fair shares for all as this appears to be ok for only one part of Swindon that will reap all the benefit of community money? It's about time that this conservative council realised don't make a decision about our money without us! :tickedoff:
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Offline 20Eyes

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #35 on: March 08, 2011, 11:26:51 AM »
Continuing subsidy of £105,000 per year from SBC and a subsidy of £50,000 from Highworth Town council.

Agreed, it's crazy. More so when they themselves admit that only c.200 people actually use the place.
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Offline Muggins

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #36 on: March 08, 2011, 12:28:16 PM »
A very bad situation to get into, will be to say what would happen if it was spent here - or there. Why should Penhill benefit and Highworth not and vice versa?  It annoys me the way some ex/councillors try to play one community of against another in this way.

The chances are at Penhill Splash Park, one day, perhaps we may be able to raise the capital to put the equipment in (that will have to be done in some sort of partnership with the Borough as it's borough land.  After that there are running costs and not all the jobs can be done by volunteers, that's being a tad too hopeful. We know we could not do that on our own, so there would be a request for a 'partnership' approach and probably subsidy.  Businesses won't take over these places, they are not business opportunties.  They are service, and a good one, health and fitness etc. etc. 

The Rec might be at Highworth but anyone of us can use it and some get a Swindon Card subsidy to use it.  Mostly those who cannot afford to join a Gym.

I still think that more than 200 people must be using it, if that is the only footfall through their door, they must be living there.

Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline 20Eyes

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #37 on: March 08, 2011, 12:33:27 PM »
The Rec might be at Highworth but anyone of us can use it and some get a Swindon Card subsidy to use it.  Mostly those who cannot afford to join a Gym.

So, we pay to keep the place open and then pay extra for people to use it. This isn't sounding like the best deal.

I still think that more than 200 people must be using it, if that is the only footfall through their door, they must be living there.

It's their own figure, from their Marketing officer. If anything, that'd mean we might expect it to be slightly optimistic. As I pointed out before, people who use gyms and things like five-a-side facilities tend to use them several times per week, or even daily, hence the seemingly distorted visitor figure against the numer of visits.

However you look at it, it's poor value for money. I can't honestly see many people from Swindon travelling out to Highworth to use facilities that are already numerous throughout Swindon and it's various suburbs.
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Offline Muggins

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #38 on: March 08, 2011, 02:17:19 PM »
I still think the Marketing manager must have got his figures wrong or poorly reported, we get more than that through our community centre every week.
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline 20Eyes

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Re: Highworth recreation centre in difficulties?
« Reply #39 on: March 10, 2011, 11:11:53 AM »
I still think the Marketing manager must have got his figures wrong or poorly reported, we get more than that through our community centre every week.


Quote
But it is running at a loss and Highworth Recreation Centre Charitable Trust believes only two per cent of the town’s 10,000 people are using the service.

Ann Lewis, the marketing officer for Highworth Recreation Centre, said: “It is hugely disappointing."

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/local/4552379.Tell_us_why_you_don_t_use_Highworth_pool/


Why would the Marketing officer make such a statement if the figures were higher than the 200 people the Trust itself has provided?

BTW, the Council voted to write off the full debt last night:

http://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=35165&J=4
"Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime." ~ Potter Stewart