Community Centres (ECS/13/060)
With reference to article 14 of the minute of its previous meeting of 30 May 2013, the Committee had before it a report by the Director of Education, Culture and Sport which provided an update on the current position in relation to a number of community centres across the city.
With reference to article 3 of this minute, the Convener invited the deputations to address the Committee on the matter before it.
Ann Pirie, Chairperson, Powis Gateway Community Centre advised that in her opinion, the management committee had complied with everything that had been asked of it. In relation to the lease to a commercial childcare provider, referred to at paragraph 5.3.5 of the report, Ms Pirie was clear that reference to this lease had been included in the business plan for the community centre, which had been approved by the Council. She reiterated that this was a reliable source of income, which would be almost impossible to replace.
Reverend Denise Cowie addressed the Committee and advised that the footfall at the community centre for last year had been approximately 50,000, a huge increase on the 7,000 footfall experienced when the Council was running the centre. She continued that the lease to the commercial childcare provider provided a fixed income to the centre which allowed it to provide a large programme of activities for the community free of charge.
In relation to the commercial childcare lease, Mr Alex Mess provided a historical context for members of the Committee, and reiterated that the Council received the books of the community centre annually, which always made reference to the lease, and asked for clarity as to why officers were only now challenging this. Mr Mess also stated that the management committee had undertaken everything asked of it by the Council.
Paul O’Connor MBE, on addressing the Committee, argued that it was a “service” that was provided by the commercial childcare provider, rather than a business operating from the community centre. Mr O’Connor stated that all the management committee wanted to do was provide services that the Council, the community centres and the public could be proud of.
Members asked a number of questions of the deputations and officers, and in particular, in relation to the absence of paperwork for the commercial childcare provider, the Legal Manager advised that the lack of written agreement and clarity around responsibilities was a risk to both the Council and the management committee. The Service Manager for Communities then brought members up to date on the most recent position in relation to a number of community centres across the city.
The Convener thanked the four deputations for their input.
The report recommended:
that the Committee –
(a) note the update provided in the report; and
(b) in respect of Powis Community Centre, instruct officers to bring back a further report on this issue in January 2014 with a recommended longer term resolution, and in the interim seek to put in place a License to Occupy arrangement.
The Committee resolved:
to approve the recommendations.