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Saturday, April 27, 2019

New way to run county leisure facilities is planned

Various leisure facilities and functions provided by Denbighshire County Council could soon be delivered via an alternative delivery model.

The proposals for a council-owned not-for-profit trading company, which also involve the International Pavilion in Llangollen which is not owned by the council, could be operational as early as April next year.

Denbighshire’s cabinet is to consider the proposals at its April meeting and make a recommendation to full council in May.

The council-owned trading company would enable the service to trade more commercially, to help sustain the facilities, as well as making savings for the authority of £800,000 in the first year.

Apart from the Pavilion, the facilities proposed to be included are the county’s seven leisure centres as well as the Prestatyn Nova, SC2, Rhyl Pavilion Theatre, Rhyl Events Arena and events function, North Wales Bowls Centre, Rhyl Town Hall, Ruthin Craft Centre, 1891, CafĂ© R (Ruthin) and Strategic Leisure.

Whilst the consideration of an alternative delivery model (ADM) is new to the council, many other councils across the UK are already using similar AMDs to deliver a range of functions and the Council has engaged extensively with these as the Denbighshire model has been drawn up.

Graham Boase, corporate director for the Economy and Public Realm, said: “We are very proud of our leisure services in Denbighshire. Investment by the council over the past 10 years has seen visitor numbers increase and our facilities are now first class and up-to-date, comparing favourably with the best leisure facilities in the industry.

“We have recognised the need for on-going investment at times of significant financial challenge, as we can clearly see the benefits to people’s health and well-being. We have also listened to the public as the demand for leisure sessions grew and continues to grow across the council.

“This model will allow a more flexible, innovative and entrepreneurial approach to commercial leisure, whilst allowing the council to retain complete control through the creation of a brand new board that will be responsible for running the company.

“This will ensure the company continues to deliver a high quality leisure provision long into the future, but as the company would be solely owned by the council it will be the council that sets the priorities for the company and the level of service expected to be delivered.

“As such the public should see very little difference in terms of the quality of the services provided or the ‘look and feel’ of the facilities themselves.”

If the business case for the plan is supported by the cabinet they will recommend progressing with the new company to full council in May, after which a number of further decisions will be required over the summer and autumn to ensure the company is set up in a way that provides the council with the necessary controls.

Chairman of the Eisteddfod Dr Rhys Davies said: "The Eisteddfod owns the freehold of the Pavilion and there is a long lease in favour of the county council. Any change to arrangements at the Pavilion would need the Eisteddfod’s permission." 

This position was confirmed by the council whose spokesperson said: “If the proposal is agreed we will enter in negotiations with the owners to negotiate new arrangements that will involve the new company.”

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