To consider reports from Executive Councillors on their respective portfolios: -
Councillor Derek Perry – Deputy Leader and Sports, Parks and Leisure.
3.2 of the Scrutiny Terms of Reference states that the Scrutiny Committee may review and scrutinise and ask questions of the Leader, lead Councillors, and the Executive in relation to their portfolios.
The Chair welcomed Councillor Perry.
The Portfolio Holder for Leisure raised that SLM had faced challenges during the pandemic but had recovered as well as possible and were committed to starting to reinstate the Outreach Programme and expand it and highlighted that the events SLM put on were varied.
During the debate the following points were raised:
· It was asked if there was a commitment to building a swimming pool in Minehead. It was responded by the Portfolio Holder that land had been set aside and ringfenced for a pool in Minehead but the plans for delivering a pool were not all in place. It was hoped that a community led group would build the pool and deliver it, with support from the Council. However, other options for delivery instead of a community led group were being looked at in case a community led option was not viable. Nothing was guaranteed though. It was added by officers that running a leisure centre was costly, so cost was not just based on building a leisure centre, which would be a multi-million-pound cost, but also the sustainability of running the site. The land that had been ringfenced was the only suitable and viable parcel of land in the Council’s ownership in the area for a leisure facility which was why it had been set aside.
· It was raised that a pool being built in the vicinity of Williton or Watchet may serve more people than a pool in Minehead based on population. The Portfolio Holder responded that the idea behind having a pool in Minehead was that fewer people would have to travel to reach it as Minehead was the most populated town in the area.
· It was raised that Everyone Active’s outreach programme sessions could be delivered in local halls in West Somerset.
· The Portfolio Holder noted that there was a lack of access to facilities in West Somerset and that this contributed to the lack of opportunity in West Somerset and action should be taken to improve opportunities.
· It was asked if any further details of the intended objectives of the Outreach Programme could be given. Officers responded that Outreach had been part of SLM’s bid for the contract. However, no one had anticipated the events over the first three years of the contract. Now that the impacts of the pandemic were lessening SLM would be expected to increase their outreach offer and officers would be discussing the offer with them. More details would be available at the next update to the Community Scrutiny Committee which would likely be in June.
· It was raised that the Steam Coast Trail cycle path was not complete and currently ended at Blue Anchor but would be beneficial to complete. The Portfolio Holder responded that they would look into this. Officers added that there was provision in the budget for the Steam Coast Trail with funding for it having been provided by Hinkley Point C.
· It was raised that Minehead used to have a swimming pool but it was demolished. Any pool newly opened would need to be carefully managed.
The Committee resolved to note the Portfolio Holder for Leisure’s report.
Councillors Tom Deakin and David Mansell left the meeting for part of this item so could not take part in the vote on it.