MEMBERS TO DISCUSS ACTIVE SCILLY FUTURE
Councillors will be asked to make a recommendation about the future of the Active Scilly service at a meeting on Tuesday.
The Finance & Scrutiny Committee will discuss four options on the table for the gym at Carn Gwaval and swimming pool at Normandy.
The facilities, which run at a considerable loss despite income from fees and charges, are currently funded by the Council. However, the Authority must make budget cuts ahead of the next financial year.
Council Chief Executive Theo Leijser's report to Members states: "[These] are non-statutory activities for the local authority, but provide an important role in support of health and wellbeing and in teaching children to swim.
"During financial year 16/17, the team have explored how the running cost of the service can be reduced and how income could be increased. The data indicates that costs have been reduced by approximately £60K and that income will be higher than expected (10%)."
The first option is to follow some mainland councils by integrating physical activity into public health policy as part of a "wider shift from a system that treats ill-health to one that promotes wellbeing".
"These authorities have identified physical inactivity as a key priority through their health and wellbeing strategies and have established close cooperation between all relevant local partners. Funding decisions are made based on the social good that sports and physical activity can deliver."
However, the report says of this option: "The implementation of a draft plan will take at least 2 years... and require full support, including financial input from public sector partners on the islands.
"At a time of public sector budget cuts, it is not evident that these resources can be secured so there could be a substantial opportunity cost to pursuing this option should the necessary funding not be available."
The Council is pursuing a second option, asking for expressions of interest from the community to operate the swimming pool and gym.
It is hoped that costs could be reduced if the service is delivered by a private operator or through a community group "who are not subject to the same legislative constraints as the council".
"In addition, a community group would be able to apply for new funding sources that are not available to Local Authorities."
Another option would be to increase the fees and charges for the Active Scilly facilities to reflect operating costs, which are estimated to be in excess of £240,000 per year.
However, the report acknowledges that it will "not be feasible to fully recover costs due to the numbers of users and current operational model".
It adds: "It is estimated that increased fees could generate approximately £15K in additional income, although there is the obvious risk that any gains would be lost through a decline in footfall."
The final option is to close the facilities, which will have a "negative impact on the community and may involve remediation cost".
Use of the gym in the financial year 2015/16 peaked at 467 in March 2016, while swimming pool user numbers ranged from 312 in April 2015 to 728 in August 2015.
The Sports Hall is not included in the options appraisal.
The final decision on the future of the gym and the pool will be made at a meeting of Full Council on January 26.