The quick answer is nothing yet.
The reason I ask in the first place? Well, at the last Full Council meeting, Rugby BC considered two items relating to the Ken Marriott Leisure Centre. However, as they were in the private section of the Agenda (known as ‘Part 2′ or Part B’), I wasn’t able to see what they were looking at. No bother, I thought, it’ll be clearer when they’ve made their decision, because then some information will go into the public domain.
However, when I saw the minutes of the meeting on the council’s website (link) all it shows is:
Council considered the private report of Cabinet of 22nd June 2009.
RESOLVED THAT – the report be confirmed and adopted.
Which tells us nothing at all. From the agenda, and from the Cabinet meeting, I already knew that there were two parts of the report:
1) The Ken Marriott Leisure Centre – Next Stages & Financial Approvals Required to Prepare a Business Case for its Repair/Refurbishment/Rebuild. Cabinet have agreed to spend up to £35,000 an ‘options appraisal and preparation of a business case’.
2) Extension of the Leisure Centre Contract for Ken Marriott Leisure Centre and Benn Hall with DC Leisure Management. This is to run from April 2010 for three years, and a saving of £13,000 a year is to be put into the budget.
I called the Town Hall today, to see what else I could find out. I’m curious because I live quite near to the Ken Marriott, and because when I was on Crawley Borough Council I was involved in the decision to rebuild the old leisure centre and replace it with the brand new K2 facility. The old Crawley Leisure Centre was about the same age as the Ken Marriott, although it was larger and served a larger population.
Speaking to someone from the Sports and Recreation Team, it becomes obvious that the council are in the very early stages of looking at this. They are going to get some consultants in to do the options appraisal, and while that will likely involve talking to representatives of user groups, wider public consultation is only going to happen when the options are more clearly known.
Rugby does not have the same position that Crawley had. We started to consider a rebuild in about 2000/2001. The county council was also about to start a programme of replacing and updating most of their school buildings in the town. The county was also looking to build a new library (they’d been promising it for over 20 years). The old Leisure centre site was in a position close to the town centre and good for transport, so made a good prospect for housing development, and the council also had a large amount in capital reserves, as well as other land that could be sold for already planned development.
So, after a land deal with West Sussex County Council – A car park in the town centre was transferred to West Sussex CC for the Library and fields near a school that was being rebuilt and wanted to become a Sport specialist college given to the Borough for K2 – and the sale of some land for housing at a time when the market was in a good state, the overall capital cost was low and the annual savings by having a more efficient and more popular building meant that it was a good deal.
However, Rugby BC is in a different position. Land prices for development are low, and I don’t know how much the council owns anyway. They don’t appear to have large capital reserves to fall back on (and indeed are currently waiting to get back £3M from an Icelandic bank), and I’m not aware of a major school building programme that they can work alongside (it’s called ‘creating synergies’). So, options could well be more limited.
Still, it’s interesting to know a little more about what’s happening, and to get an idea of how long it will be before a real decision is going to be made (we are talking about a year or I suppose, with a few years before we see any effect, depending on the financial situation).