To receive and note the Sheringham Leisure Centre Project Update.
Cllr V Gay – Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Wellbeing & Culture introduced the report and stated that the project remained on-track for a phase 1 opening in August 2021. She added that an assessment had been made on bringing forward demolition of the existing site at the announcement of the second lockdown, and it had been determined that there would be no financial benefit in taking this action. It was noted that the project team and responsibilities remained unchanged despite the Council’s ongoing management restructure. Cllr V Gay stated that it was unfortunate that current circumstances had meant that the project hadn’t been used to communicate and raise awareness of professions in the District, though the aspiration to do so remained. It was noted that the project risk register remained unchanged from the last report.
Questions and Discussion
i. Cllr N Housden referred to discussions at a previous meeting and stated that requests had been made for additional budget information, but this had not been supplied. He added that the cost-benefit analysis of demolishing the existing facility early had not taken into account the potential for any future loss of income, and suggested that the Committee would need more information to properly scrutinise this decision. Cllr V Gay replied that the financial information provided sought to show that the project remained on track and within budget, though more information could be provided if necessary. On the cost-benefit analysis, it was noted that early demolition would continue to be reassessed if future lockdowns were to occur. Cllr N Housden reiterated that it was his understanding that the Committee had previously asked for additional information that had not been provided. He added that due to the size of the project, it was crucial to continue to re-evaluate the early demolition of the existing site, if further changes in circumstances were to arise. Cllr N Housden suggested that it would also be appropriate to return to monthly monitoring reports for the Committee. Cllr V Gay asked whether the requirements for additional could be requested in writing, to clarify the exact requirements.
ii. Cllr C Cushing stated that in his experience, the amount of information provided in the report was not adequate given the size of the project, and agreed that monitoring reports should return to a monthly frequency.
iii. Cllr L Withington stated that she was concerned that the existing facility’s role in supporting wellbeing across the District had been overlooked, which was crucial under the current circumstances. The Chairman clarified that there had not been a proposal for early closure of the existing facility, but that this decision should be kept under review, if there were any future changes in circumstances.
iv. Cllr P Heinrich stated that he was supportive of requests for more detailed budget information, and suggested that whilst it was prudent to continue to monitor the cost-benefit of the existing facility, the current tier rules allowed gyms to remain open, which provided an important service for residents.
v. Cllr V Gay stated that a monthly report would be possible, though it would be helpful if questions were submitted in advance of the meeting to ensure that adequate information could be provided. Cllr N Housden replied that he wanted to ensure that the Committee were able to review detailed budget information within the report. Cllr V Gay stated that it would be helpful to know exactly what financial information would be required.
vi. The ADSG stated for the record that the total project budget was £12.8m, and clarified that the completion and opening of the new facility was not dependent on the closure of the existing facility. As such, it was possible to fully complete construction prior to commencing demolition of the existing facility. He added that consideration of early demolition was dependent on the costs of maintaining the facility outweighing its benefits, however the second lockdown had not changed this position. It was noted that if there was a further lockdown, then this decision would be reconsidered. The ADSG stated that he would be reluctant to include a full cashflow breakdown in the monitoring reports, as the budget profile included already outlined whether the project remained on-track financially. It was noted that at present there was a slight overspend, which had been included in the report to maintain the existing level of contingency, at this stage of the project. Cllr V Gay stated that there were four points for reassessment of early demolition, and stated that the decision would continue to be kept under review.
vii. Cllr G Mancini-Boyle suggested that it would be helpful to receive an update from the contractors on progress, potentially with a slideshow to show progress. Cllr V Gay agreed and stated that she would seek to determine whether this could be provided. Cllr S Butikofer noted that she had recently passed the construction site and had been reassured to see progress.
viii. Cllr N Housden stated that he did not feel the full budget information would be too complex for review and suggested that he would like to see this if possible.
ix. The Chairman summarised comments and noted that there had been a request for monthly updates with a visual presentation of progress, and more detailed financial information to be provided, as part of this update. The requests were proposed by Cllr N Housden and seconded by Cllr C Cushing.
1. To note the report.
2. That more detailed budget information be provided in future reports.
3. That updates are provided on a monthly basis from January 2021.
4. That a visual presentation on the progress of the new leisure centre be provided as part of the next update.