To consider the report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services.
Having regard to the views expressed by the Proper Officer regarding the public interest test, that on balance, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information and that the report should be exempt.
RESOLVED that the public be excluded whilst this item of business is transacted as it is likely there would be a disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 14, Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act, 1972 (as amended).
Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services.
The Executive Member for Environment explained that the report set out the result of the re-assessment of information by the Selection Panel provided in support of an appeal submitted to the proposed Community Asset Transfer (CAT) of Tredegar Recreation Ground.
It was noted that this report had been deferred from the previous Council meeting held on 12th December, 2019 pending further information in respect of the following questions which had been posed:
- Had the Council consulted with Tredegar Town Council regarding the CAT?
- Had the Council followed legal practice in terms of consultation?
- Was there a covenant agreement relating to the site?
- Could additional provision be built into the lease to provide protection to other user groups using the ground?
The Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services confirmed that general consultation regarding the Community Asset Transfer had been happening since 2017. In addition, the Council had formally written to Tredegar Town Council in February 2019 asking if it would consider the potential CAT of this ground. This correspondence had been discussed at a meeting of the Town Council and the Town Council had responded that it would not be interested in assuming responsibility for the facility at this time.
In terms of the Charter agreement between the Council and Town Council, this was not a legally binding agreement enforceable in law but was a statement of intention that outlined good practice. Therefore, the Charter agreement had not been contravened.
With regard to the covenant on the land, it was confirmed that the land would not be given away but would be retained in charitable trust and additional wording could be built into the lease to ensure that the successful organisation:
· Actively promoted the use and enjoyment of the Premises for leisure and community uses for the benefit of the local community and public at large and actively to encourage others to use the Premises (or parts of the same) not then being used by the Tenant.
The Head of Legal and Corporate Compliance referred to the definition of a legal agreement (a legally binding contract enforceable in a court of law) and confirmed that the Charter was classed as a ‘statement of intention’ entered into by the Council and the Town Council which formally recorded how it would operate and the intended behaviour of both parties. Therefore, the Charter was not legally enforceable.
A Member expressed his concern that no consultation had taken place whatsoever in respect this CAT proposal involving these groups. A full consultation should have involved the Town Council and County Borough Councillors who had not been involved in any aspect of the consultation process.
The Corporate Director confirmed that Members were part of the decision making process in respect of the CAT. At this stage a decision had not yet been taken and, therefore, there was no proposal to take forward to consult on. He concluded by stating that Tredegar Town Council had been consulted with in terms of the CAT proposals.
The Leader of the Labour Group commenced by stating the Town Council had indicated that they would consider the CAT if the process did not reach a conclusion. He pointed out that Tredegar Members had envisaged an all-encompassing sporting facility in Tredegar and unfortunately this report did not provide for that. Therefore, he would be unable to support the proposal and would abstain from voting. He concluded by stating that Members should have been involved at the initial stages of these discussions as they had could have assisted, particularly as they had good connections to both organisations.
Another Member supported the views of the Leader of the Labour Group but said that he was pleased to hear that the lease could be strengthened for other users of the facility because the more the ground was used, the greater its longevity. He requested that should the CAT become unsuccessful at a future point that there be an early intervention period whereby Members were consulted and other unsuccessful organisations offered the opportunity to take over the CAT of the ground.
The Leader of the Council made a statement in respect of the process that had been implemented with regard to CAT which had commenced in August 2017 and said that all parties had been made aware of CAT, the purpose of it and the process. He pointed out that in excess of 95% of the grounds had been dealt with and in the most part clubs were working together, efficiently, effectively and in a business like fashion for sport in their areas.
If the process had been broadened to encompass others parties less than 10% would have been achieved in 2 years and the CAT would have been nowhere near completion. It was noted that £500,000 savings had been attributed to the CAT process. The Leader of the Council concluded by pointing out the option was available for the Labour Group to submit an amended proposal in respect of this matter.
The Leader of the Labour Group reiterated that he had envisaged a Tredegar Sporting facility and, therefore, the whole of the Labour Group would abstain from voting on the option.
The Executive Member for Environment proposed that Option 1 be endorsed.
A vote was thereupon, taken in respect of Option 1 and it was
RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report which related to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority) be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely:
- The Council, acting as Charitable Trustees note the outcome of the appeal and the re-assessment process detailed in paragraph 2.8 and offered the Community Asset Transfer of Tredegar Recreation Ground to the successful applicants named therein, subject to:
a. Granting a three-month licence/Tenancy at Will to permit the operation of the ground to the successful organisation.
b. Advertising the proposed leasehold disposal detailed in earlier reports in line with the requirements of the Charities Act 2011.
The following Members abstained from voting:-
Councillors D. Bevan, M. Cross, K. Hayden, H. McCarthy, J. Millard, T. Sharrem, T. Smith, S. Thomas, H. Trollope, D. Wilkshire, B. Willis.