– to receive and note questions asked and statements made from members of the public on issues relating to the responsibility of this Committee (see note overleaf).
Four members of the public and/or representatives of local groups spoke during public participation and their comments are summarised below.
Sandra Bowhay (Winchester Netball Club) stated that she had also spoken at The Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 4 February 2019. She expressed concern that the new facilities would not allow adequate space for the Club to increase its membership (it already had a long waiting list). The Club had responded to consultation, along with Western Blades, but believed they had been presented with an option for two netball courts as a “fait accompli” (when their preference would have been for three courts). She also expressed disappointment with the standard and guaranteed availability of the alternative court at the ATR offered by the Council.
Emma Back (Winchester SALT) had also spoken at The Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 4 February and wished to clarify a statement attributed to her in the draft minutes of that meeting (Report CAB3146(LC) refers) to emphasise that local clubs could have generated revenue to the new centre of significantly more than the £1.7million over 40 years committed by the University. In her opinion, it would have been more than £10m over the 40 years if all the clubs’ suggestions had been taken on board but these had been largely discounted, with the exception of the larger sports clubs. She also was disappointed that she was not offered the opportunity to discuss the needs assessment with the consultants.
Mike Fisher (Winchester City Penguins Swimming Club) stated that the new Centre would offer a great opportunity for the community with regards to the additional water space, including competitive swimming and welcomed the assurances given regarding affordable access. It was estimated that the Club would contribute over £6m over the life of the new centre and would be seeking to organise approximately 30 competitive events per year. He was looking forward to working in partnership with the new operator, including discussions over equipment for the new facilities (and potential for financial contributions from the Club). He would also welcome further investigation of the potential for swimming scholarships to be offered by Winchester University.
Geoff Wright (St Giles Hill resident) noted that his written questions submitted to The Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 4 February 2019 (as he had been unable to attend the rearranged date) had been answered at that meeting. Whilst supporting the new centre, he remained concerned regarding the FBC being able to be built, operated, managed and financed with no net financial contribution from the Council. His concerns included the following:
· the comparatively high construction costs;
· perceived difficult relationships with some sports groups and concern that the new facility would not be fit for purpose;
· no increase in numbers of courts to be provided than at the existing leisure centre;
· decrease in sum offered by the University towards the project;
· assessment of the income from the operator to the Council indicated a long period at the start when the Council is paying out more than receiving.