Call for rethink on Filton leisure centre funding

July 31 2019
Call for rethink on Filton leisure centre funding

New calls have been made to form a charitable trust to run Filton Sports and Leisure Centre as it emerged the town council failed to achieve its budgeted surplus.

New calls have been made to form a charitable trust to run Filton Sports and Leisure Centre as it emerged the town council failed to achieve its budgeted surplus.
The council has been undergoing cost savings for several years to build up cash reserves to a minimum of £160,000, with £40,000 per year the aim.
However in the last financial year the surplus was just £11,000, leaving the council with reserves of £95,000.
Accountant Derek Kemp told a full meeting of the council that at current surplus rates it would take several years to achieve the ideal minimum reserves.
Councils are obliged to have reserves which would allow the authority to keep functioning in the event of an emergency.
Mr Kemp said: "The surplus this year was nowhere near what was budgeted. We increased reserves by £11,700 to £95,000 and at this rate we would need to budget for a surplus for years to come.
"If we cannot find extra revenue from the leisure centre then the only option would be to increase the precept (the town council's element of council tax, currently around £225 a year for the average household)."
Cllr Chris Wood asked what the biggest outlay was and why the surplus target was not reached.
Mr Kemp said: "The biggest cost we have is staffing of the leisure centre and we need a minimum number of staff for health and safety reasons.
"The costs have been exacerbated by sickness and absence in the past year."
He said that leisure centre costs were £1.081m but income was just £607,000.
Town clerk Lesley Reuben said cutbacks had already been made in all departments and there were moves to increase the number of swimming lessons, which brings in considerable revenue, but this would mean less public swimming."
Cllr Wood said: "We need to raise £400k but we have no plan to do so. Could we look into setting up a charitable trust to run the centre? Ploughing on as we are will not make it sustainable. A charitable trust could obtain grants which the council is not eligible for."
Resident Dave Mikkelson said: "The council should be able to do better. We can't keep raising the precept."
Cllr Keith Briffett said: "I hope the burden will not fall on taxpayers. A lot of pensioners are already struggling."
Earlier this year the precept rise was set at 4.05%.