Party Point – February 2013

John Clark writes…

First published: February 2013 – Gazette & Herald

‘Daddy it’s not fair’ comes the cry. ‘No it’s not, but life isn’t always fair’ is the reply. As parents, managers or any person making a decision, we should all try to be fair. To achieve fairness:

  • There needs to be a rule book, a policy, a strategy
  • Every effort should be made to treat each individual similarly to others
  • Any decisions should be made after careful analysis of all the facts and evidence

How does the sale of Ryedale Indoor Bowling Club (RIBC) fit with these guidelines?

Sport and Recreation Strategy

RDC has a Sport and Recreation Strategy (2001 – 2011). Councillor Cowling states “The Sports Strategy is silent on Bowls provision. A new strategy will come before the Commissioning Board shortly but the draft I have seen makes no reference to RIBC.”

RIBC is a perfect example of the ‘Big Society’ before David Cameron invented it. As the Sport and Recreation Strategy states: “Voluntary clubs are recognised to be a sustainable and cost effective way of increasing opportunities to participate in a wide range of activities. Voluntary sector clubs in Ryedale are limited both in the type and quality of activities available.” RIBC has a facility that is excellent in quality – certainly not limited.

Cllr Cowling is the Chair of the committee responsible for Sport and Recreation including the new Strategy. Why haven’t we got a new Strategy and why does it not include the RIBC?

Similar treatment to others.

I support RDC decisions to give to various sports and recreation facilities.

  • Community Leisure runs two swimming pools and the Northern Ryedale Leisure Centre. The subsidy is over £300,000 per year.
  • Helmsley Outdoor Swimming Pool (a mirror image of an indoor facility) has support from RDC of around £8,000 per year and more ‘if it was particularly poor weather’. This makes sense and gives Ryedale a superb facility.
  • Helmsley Sports Club has £50,000 per year for each of the next three years so as to provide its new facilities (G & H 30/01/13)
  • Malton Community Sports Centre had £1.5million invested and receives £40,000 per year. Money well spent. 30 years in the making.

All of the above are ‘money well spent’, but are just that – money spent. How does RIBC compare? It was bought by RDC for £50,000. Over the last 15 years RIBC has paid £450,000 in rent to the council; RDC has spent £840 on the Bowls Club. The rent has been reduced to £10,000 per year. Even at this figure the RIBC is standing on its own feet far better than the other organisations. In fact it has been a goose laying large golden eggs. This fine bird is to be killed off, not because it has stopped laying but because the golden eggs are smaller.

How does that compare in fairness terms?

Careful analysis

Full Council last September made its decision to sell without the facts, fairness and the proposed RIBC business plan.

What is the Tory position? They have the power but where is the logic of supporting sporting organisations that are loss making, yet selling off one that is bringing in income? As a Norton councillor, Cllr Ives prides himself on always looking closely at the finances and recognises the need for the Derwent Swimming Pool to be refurbished. Why not put the pool on the RIBC site with a common cafe, reception area etc? Much cheaper than buying a new site in the future. RDC has not even considered this option. Discussions need to take place to prevent wrong decisions being taken.

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