13 Feb 2010

More on Scrutiny: fly-tipping and leisure centres

It was Scrutiny meeting on Thursday night at Ebley Mill and I have already covered the report that I presented on climate change measures - see here - and the one on planning here. The rest of the agenda is here and included looking at performance indicators, the housing improvement plan and lots more....but here I'll just cover the fly-tipping and joint leisure centres briefly...

Photo: Pic of Randwick looking through to where Ebley Mill is sited!

Joint Use Leisure centres

I've covered this before here and here: those bits cover the background. Basically it is Cabinet's recommendation to 'terminate' JUC contracts at Nailsworth, Wotton and Berkeley and 'further review the future management of the other joint use sites'. Here are some comments from Cllr Fi MacMillan, Green councillor for Nailsworth:

• With an 'intent to terminate' JUC agreements, this is not an open consultation process which gives confidence to communities that leisure provision has ongoing commitment from SDC. • This recommendation has been developed behind closed doors without democratic involvement undermining confidence in partnership working. • There is no interim funding on the table to allow communities to make the transition from a subsidised service provision to a stand alone service. • Mostly importantly, this decision is not aligned to the Council's objectives set out in the Sustainable Communities Strategy to be 'fair and just', to promote 'health and wellbeing' and to provide sustainable services. • It is not aligned to our targets under the Local Area Agreement to increase adult participation in sport, National Indicator 8. • This recommendation takes no account of how well SDC has been meeting the needs of any of these communities - some of the services appear to have withered through inadequate provision of services.

The ideal would be that we have a leisure strategy across the district and align all Leisure Services expenditure behind this, rather than cutting the JUCs one by one - a slow and painful death leaving our communities without adequate leisure provision in the long-term.

The administration is describing this as an 'efficiency saving', which it is not. It is a cut in service by this Council. In addition the notion that JUCs be 'returned' to the schools is a slight of hand. Nailsworth School Governors are clear that schools are not permitted to use their resources to facilitate leisure activity at their premises. We are being told that there is adequate private sector provision in some areas which makes JUCs outdated. There is private sector provision available to those who can afford this - but not to others. This is not 'fair and just'.

Nailsworth Town Council are equally damming in their report "Observations of the Report to Special Cabinet on 28 January 2010 - Review of Joint Use Sites and Wotton Pool". In their summary they note:

• The Report is fundamentally slanted to justify the closure of these three centres, and has basic inaccuracies • The financial costs have been loaded so that smaller centres such as Nailsworth are asked to carry far more of the costs than larger ones such as Rednock. • The Report claims that Nailsworth school governors have been consulted. They have not. • Inexplicably the Report looks at 'competitor' facilities within a 10 mile radius, quite ignoring accessibility or affordability. • The Report ignores the special needs of potential users in Forest Green. • It is claimed that much effort has been put into advertising and promoting the centre. Yet we know of nothing. • In summary, the very Report is written in a way intended to justify the closure of the Nailsworth (and Vale of Berkeley and Wotton pool) centre, and has flagrant inaccuracies. Sadly, it highlights the determination of SDC to close them

The decision will be made at next Council meeting and it looks set to go through. I am unhappy, as noted before, in the whole way this review of services has been done. However I do have some faith that the Council will seek to maintain services in the community if possible - I did ask if transition funding might be available - it wasn't ruled out. Indeed closure will not be a good move politically.


The Council has made it's first prosecution for fly-tipping - a woman caught in day light tipping stuff under the sign that says no fly-tipping! Stroud is seen as 'effective' in dealing with fly-tipping - as opposed to 'not effective' or 'very effective'. We have seen a 19% decrease from 800 to 650 incidents between 07/08 and 08/09. The national picture is also to less fly-tipping - about 9% decrease nationally and 11% in the South West.

This meeting is a chance to quiz officers and members on our approach....Well I raised the issue of rubbish left over after the sledging (see here the views of one local about the impact on our area) - apparently that is litter rather than fly-tipping even though it includes tyres, a car bonnet and highway signs. Anyhow the District agreed to look at this issue with interested parties although it is private land.

Another issue I asked about was whether the free collection of bulky items by the District Council reduced fly-tipping. I was very surprised to learn that research indicates this is not a factor in fly-tipping! Does this mean we will be set for charges? Mind the administration of charges is costly in itself.

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