(Updated 8 Dec with a revised proposal)
For the 2017/18 budget, the Lib Dems have proposed a growth item to provide for leisure facilities for children and teens in Botley. Since I was first elected in 2011, I’ve been trying to improve the provision of leisure facilities in Botley and the north east area of the Vale. It’s been a saga. Various consultations have overlooked this area, and recent years’ investments in leisure facilities have gone to other areas of Vale. Attempts to jump start this effort by motions to full council have also failed.
This proposal is to fund the collaborative programme between Vale and North Hinksey Parish Council and Louie Memorial Pavilion Trust and the Scouts (and any other interested party) to replace the Louie Memorial Pavilion and Scouts’ hut with a new shared facility, and to provide a replacement skate park and other recreational facilities for older children and teens.
Here’s the proposal we’ve submitted for this budget:
Botley Leisure Provision – Executive Summary
Version 2: 8 Dec 2016. Modified to create one rev bid for 2017/18 and two capital bids for 2 subsequent years.
Purpose of Report
- Provide background information about leisure provision in Botley
- Propose solutions to remedy current lack of provision by a revenue bid in 2017/18 for leisure officer resource to lead the planning of the project, and two capital bids in each of 2018/19 and 2019/20 for development of the leisure facilities described in this proposal.
The Vale of White Horse currently provides no leisure or sport facilities in Botley. In the past, our reliance on provision by Brookes University and Matthew Arnold School may have gone some way to meeting need, but those facilities are no longer freely available for public use.
In Sept 2009 the Botley skate bowl, built in 1991, was destroyed by thieves ramming a stolen car into it and setting it on fire. In Feb 2010 the North Hinksey Parish Council decided it was too expensive to repair or replace and so permanently closed the skate bowl.
In recent years the Louie Memorial Pavilion has undergone transformation from a neglected empty building to a valued community resource used by youth groups, football teams and community groups, and which has money in the bank. But the LM Pavilion requires ongoing expensive maintenance and has reached the end of its useful life. Parish council support has grown to the point where it seems a good time now for a collaborative and positive contribution to local leisure and sport facilities.
- In 2007 or thereabouts (we can’t find the report, but only references to it) an assessment report by Sport England declared that Botley was under provided with sport facilities, especially for older children and teens. ‘Deprived’ was the word they used. (Note please this was during the time when the skate bowl was still there.)
- In 2009, Vale’s Open Space, Sport and Recreation Provision Strategy found a gap in sport provision in the northeast area of Vale, and noted particularly that teen facilities were poor. (Note please this was during the time when the skate bowl was still there.)
- In Dec 2012, Vale’s Leisure & Sports facility public consultation defined 4 main settlement areas in the Vale: Abingdon, Botley, Faringdon, Wantage & Grove. The consultation questionnaire asked questions about every area except for Botley; there were no questions about provision in Botley.
- In May 2013, Cllr Debby Hallett’s letter to Cllr Elaine Ware outlined concerns of residents in Botley about the Leisure & Sport Facilities Strategy. The lack of any recent needs assessment in Botley meant there was no negotiating power for s106 obligations from the three main housing developments (Timbmet, Lime Rd and Tilbury Lane), and hence, no money from those developers for leisure or sport needs. The consultation shortcoming meant no new provision in the area for the next generation, and no leverage for negotiating s106 and CIL money for local infrastructure.
Budgets: Money promised for sport & leisure facility provision
- May 2014: approx £2,000,000 announced as part of the new leisure contract for White Horse Leisure Centre in Abingdon for gym expansion, new equipment, energy improvements.
- May 2014: approx £1,000,000 announced as part of the new leisure contract for Faringdon for new pitches, squash court, gym equipment and energy improvements.
- Feb 2015: Capital growth item £500,000 for sport and leisure improvements in Abbey Meadow in Abingdon.
- Feb 2015: Capital growth item £12,000,000 over three years, for a new Wantage Grove Leisure Centre.
- April 2016: Vale announced £415,623 to refurbish the swimming pool at White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre in Abingdon.
- 11 Jul 2016: Abingdon outdoor pool to be replaced, the cost to be over and above the original £500,000 (in item 3, above). No precise costs announced.
- Oct 2016. Local Vale council members from Botley propose that council include growth bids(s) for leisure facilities for Botley.
- One of Vale’s responsibilities is to provide sport and leisure facilities throughout the whole district, including Botley and the north east area.
- Botley and the north east area are underprovided with leisure and sport facilities.
- Botley and the north east area were left out of the leisure and sports facilities studies, which underpin the emerging Vale Local Plan.
- There is nothing about sport and leisure provision in Botley and the north east in the newly adopted Vale Corporate Plan.
- Without assessment of need, there is no evidence of need to support CIL or s106 negotiations.
- Because of these omissions, there is a likelihood of nothing for Botley and the north east area in the next generation unless extraordinary steps are taken.
The time is right for Vale to work with local people and parish councils to create a work plan and sources of funding to provide facilities, especially for older children and young people, such as a skate park, adventure playground, sport pavilion with community meeting space for clubs, scouts, and other leisure and sport uses. An appropriate site is available at Louie Memorial Fields; the Playing Fields Association rep says it’s a big enough site. The scouts’ lease on their scout hut just next to the pavilion is up this year, so they are a partner in this. Some funding is available from North Hinksey Parish Council and we can explore other funding sources.
- 2017/18 Revenue growth bid £20,000 for officer to help local bodies with project and facilities plans, consultations, tendering, and all the things that go with a leisure facilities development project. Leisure officers know how to do this; local people usually do not. Cost is based on one officer (£35,000pa) for two days a week, plus some money for events and travel).
- 2018/19 medium term financial plan. Capital bid for skate park or wheeled sports facility, some sort of adventure playground, walking/running track, other sport or fitness equipment, and landscaping to bring it all together: £150,000
- 2019/20 medium term financial plan: Capital bid to replace pavilion and scout hut, with new facility to include showers, changing rooms, pubic toilets, secure storage, flexible meeting and activity space, kitchen: £600,000
Cllr Debby Hallett