Thursday, 24 October 2013

Salt Ayre Sports Centre services under review, Butterfly House future uncertain as cuts bite

Uncertain future ahead for Council services. Photo: Lancaster City Council
 
Lancaster City Council’s Cabinet is to receive proposals for reviewing a number of the council’s services as it looks to tackle its bleak financial future, including Salt Ayre Sports Centre and facilities in Williamson Park.

Although no decisions have yet been made, the area's already much-curtailed events programme is also under further threat as Government continues to cut back on council funding.

The council is faced with having to make estimated annual savings of £3.5million by 2015/16 due to Government funding reductions and is looking at all of its service areas to identify where savings can be made.

At its meeting on Tuesday 5th November Cabinet will be asked to approve proposals to review three of the council’s service areas:

Salt Ayre Sports Centre and Leisure Services

A review will investigate the current provision at the sports centre and how savings can be made, as well as the longer term future of the sports centre and community pools.

The review would include options to reduce the amount of subsidy required to run the centre by generating ongoing savings.  In 2013/14 it is estimated that the cost of running the centre will be £971,200 and options will be developed for efficiency savings and service reductions.

Options will also be developed for alternative delivery models.  As well as keeping the centre in-house, this could include partnering with a private operator, charitable body, social enterprise or creating a leisure trust.

Management of parks, open spaces and public realm
The management of parks and open spaces would be merged with the council’s Environmental Services department, creating efficiency savings by removing duplication, and economies of scale. 

Options will also be developed for considering the future of Williamson Park’s café and Butterfly House.

Regeneration and Planning (including communications, marketing, tourism and events)

Specific areas to be reviewed will include the provision of events, the district’s Visitor Information Centres, communications and marketing activity, as well the impact of not providing officer time to support regeneration projects and economic development.

Councillor Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “Without a doubt this is the toughest challenge we have ever faced and we have to look at every area of our budget. Over the coming weeks and months we will be looking at further areas where we can make savings and by the end of the process there will be no area of the council that has not been reviewed.

“I have to stress that at this stage no firm decisions have been taken on any of the service areas – we are simply asking for more work to be done and a series of options developed for us to look at further.

“But I also have to be clear that the options will need to be radical and lead to large scale savings.  We have to take decisive action if we are to set a balanced budget.”

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