Agenda item

Representations and questions from Non-Cabinet Members


A non-Cabinet member asked about the Deepings Leisure Centre which he had raised previously.  It was now nine months since Deeping members had been promised regular updates in relation to the Deepings Leisure Centre and nothing had happened to date.  He referred to meetings of both the Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Culture and Visitor Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee which had taken place at the beginning of the year, and the establishment of a leisure working group which would meet monthly.  He quoted from both sets of Committee notes about what the working group would look at and that local Ward members would also be involved.  He wanted confirmation that no meetings of the leisure working group had taken place.


The non-Cabinet member then referred to a report that had been given to Deeping St James Parish Council in which it stated that the leisure centre would be entirely located on Lincolnshire County Council land and this also applied to the artificial pitch. The Chairman of the Parish Council had informed the non-Cabinet member that this was not true as the latest plans that he had, showed the artificial pitch on land owned by Deeping St James Parish Council.   These plans had not been shared with Deeping Ward members and he asked the Deputy Leader to clarify the position.  He also asked about a ball park figure for the cost of the leisure centre.


The Deputy Leader referred to when he took over the portfolio and the pandemic which had affected progress on the project.  He referred to the meeting held on 30 January 2020 at which the non-Cabinet member was present, and where members discussed what they felt was important for a leisure facility at the Deepings.  He had now visited all leisure centres in the district and this included the Deepings which he had visited three/four weeks ago.  The wording contained in the report was incorrect. The artificial pitch would be located where the pitch was currently which was on land owned by Deeping St James Parish Council.


He referred to the recent meeting of Deeping St James Parish Council where the leisure centre had been discussed. The Deepings Rugby Club had stated that they wished to retain their pavilion which meant that the proposed changing rooms on the outside of the leisure centre would not be needed.   Once the final plans were known these would be discussed with Deeping members including Market Deeping members.


The Deputy Leader had asked for two cost prices for running the leisure centre, one for an eight lane swimming pool for 25 metres with a movable floor and the other for an eight lane swimming pool with a 50 metre pool.  It was noted that the cost of the 50 metre pool would be very high and it was doubtful that this would be included as he was aware that every 50 metre swimming pool in the country ran at a loss.  He believed there was a Parish Council meeting on Thursday of that week to which Deeping and Market Deeping members had been invited.  In relation to the cost of the artificial football pitch, the Football Foundation had stated that they would provide 80% of funding, if the pitch was used for football only.   Unfortunately, no contribution had come from Hockey England to enable hockey to be played there.  It was hoped that the changing rooms would be eventually knocked down and go into the leisure centre, although plans had yet to be finalised. 


In response to a request from a Cabinet Member regarding the evaluation of having a 50 metre pool, Members were advised that this would form part of the  business case, however it was anticipated that a 50 metre pool would not be sustainable or viable.


The Deputy Leader had discussed with the Head of Leisure what would go into the leisure centre; saunas, fitness suite and indoor courts which could also be used as a performance venue, but he stressed that nothing had been confirmed apart from the swimming pool and he asked members for their patience. 


The rough cost of the project would be in the region of £20million and the Council would be borrowing the money.  Once the lease on the land for the artificial pitch had been signed then things could be progressed.


The Leader stated that it was not only the Deeping members and residents  who would access the leisure centre but also those members and residents who lived in the surrounding wards such as the Casewick Ward.  The Leader stated that engagement with members would happen at the appropriate time. 


The Strategic Director for Growth reminded members of the response given at the end of the last Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Service Overview and Scrutiny Committee in relation to the member working group and summarised the response given at the Committee.  Until a site was secured to develop a new leisure facility in Deeping St James, it was impossible to finalise work in relation to the design and development costs. Once work had been concluded and where clear options were available, the member working group would be convened.  Ward members would be included and a joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee would take place so that the appropriate level of scrutiny of the options could be undertaken. The options would then be presented to Cabinet and that was anticipated to take place towards the end of the year, November or December.  The working groups would take place when the time was right and there was something meaningful and useful for the groups to discuss, further work was needed to be done until that position was reached.


The non-Cabinet member thanked the Deputy Leader and the Strategic Director for Growth for their comments.  He did sympathise that this type of project took a long time, but he felt that decisions were being made and he was not aware of the meeting on Thursday.


The Deputy Leader stated that currently the lease agreement in respect of the land for the artificial pitch needed to be concluded.  A meeting with the Deeping St James Parish Council Chairman and others had been arranged for 2pm on Thursday 17 September 2020.    The Leader stated that a virtual roundtable meeting would be arranged for all Deeping St James, Market Deeping and members from surrounding Wards to update them with the current position.


The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations was asked if Lincolnshire County Council would be continuing with the food waste trial and whether this would be rolled out further, and a comment was made in relation to the proposed collection of paper and card by the County Council.  The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations responded that Lincolnshire County Council would not be continuing with the food waste trial, however, the District Council would be continuing with the trial and was exploring with Lincolnshire County Council colleagues how the service could be expanded.  Although the County had issued a press release in relation to their ambitions to collect paper and card it had not been discussed with the relevant Districts as to whether or not they wished to carry this out.   A debate would happen to discuss the benefits especially in terms of cost, as it relied on residents receiving another bin.  It was hoped that by the time that this happened, in the next two to three years, the food waste would have been rolled out.


A question was then directed to both the Leader and the Deputy Leader as directors of InvestSK in respect of the procurement process used to hire consultants at a cost of £155,000 for an InvestSK project.  The Strategic Director for Growth stated that he would reply to the non-Cabinet member’s email direct.


Further comments were then made in relation to the lack of meetings held in respect of the leisure centre for Deeping St James and including Deeping St James members in any decisions that had been taken.  The Deputy Leader reiterated that no detailed decisions had been taken in respect of the leisure centre.  Agreement was still needed with Deeping St James Parish Council for the lease of the land for the artificial pitch.  Once agreement had been reached things could be progressed.


The Leader reiterated that he would arrange a round table virtual meeting for all stakeholders that would include senior officers where information to date would be discussed.