Ratepayers bar 'could face £10,000 loss’

November 02 2020
Ratepayers bar 'could face £10,000 loss’

The Filton Town Council-run Ratepayers bar at Elm Park is facing an uncertain future with takings down over the pandemic and the prospect of no lucrative events over the festive period.

by Rich Coulter 

At a meeting of the town council's finance committee, Cllr Chris Wood said that, if non-budgeted payments from the government furlough scheme and an insurance payout were removed, the bar could be on course to lose £11,000 by the end of the financial year in 2021 if current income levels are maintained. 
He also questioned why councillors had not been provided with a full report on the council's service provision which would have enabled councillors to make financial decisions for the rest of the year.
He said: "I am concerned there is no estimate on profit or loss for the rest of the year. 
"We could be looking at a loss of £10,000 over the next six months. This is avoidable."
Town clerk Lesley Reuben said:"The Ratepayers is on a downward spiral but at what point do we step in and close it? We will have no festive functions, footfall is less and less, it is not open full hours due to government restrictions and I can only see it getting worse."
Cllr Andy Robinson said: "We don’t have a strategy - we need to look at the facility as a whole, need to know the costs of each department in the centre and what are our options and how do we achieve this?"
Cllr John Tucker said that if the council was looking at the performance of the Ratepayers, it should also look at the pool.
But Cllr Wood said there was "a world of difference between helping children to swim against providing a bar, accommodating 15-20 people a day."
The town council is currently engaging a consultant to look at the future of the leisure centre, which is funded by Filton Council Tax payers. The leisure centre has been struggling financially, with pre-Covid estimates for running costs of £610,000 this year. 
With income failing to meet this sum and high staffing costs, the council was forced into a 35% increase in the town council precept earlier this year.
Councillors decided to engage the consultant to investigate alternative ways of running the leisure centre, sports facilities, soft play and also the Ratepayers bar. A significant revamping of the leisure centre is likely.
He reported that the bar was not an ‘income driver’ and possible other options could include a café/ bar, linked to the soft play and swimming pool. 
A new operator would be attracted by the playing fields and with new development on Filton Airfield, increased demand.