The Head of Operations - Community Services presented a report, the purpose of which, was to consider the business case prepared in accordance with the Council’s Community Asset Transfer (CAT) Policy document to support the leasing of the bowls pavilion, bowls green, two rugby pitches and tennis courts at Cae Gof Playing Fields to Cefn Cribwr Athletic Club (CCAC); and assess the funding package requested by CCAC under the Council’s £1 million CAT Fund and Change Management Fund so that proposals to re-develop the bowls pavilion and drainage / pitch improvements and day to day management of the bowls green and two rugby pitches at Cae Gof Playing Fields.
Cabinet were advised that under the revised CAT protocol, funding applications up to £50k from the £1 million CAT Fund could be approved by the CAT Steering Group with all sums in excess of this threshold being required to be referred to Cabinet for approval, and as CCAC had submitted multiple applications the matter needed to be considered by the Cabinet.
The Head of Operations - Community Services confirmed that CCAC represented the interests of the rugby and bowls sections at Cae Gof Playing Fields and first submitted an expression of interest for the Main Pavilion on 12 August 2016 which was approved by the Council’s Strong Communities Connecting Services Board on 5 October 2016. The Club re-engaged with the CAT process on 10 January 2019 when more formal discussions also involving Cefn Cribwr FC have been progressed. This resulted in a joint expression of interest being submitted by CCAC and Cefn Cribwr FC for the lease of Cae Gof Playing Fields including the Main Pavilion which was approved in principle by the CAT Steering Group on 19 December 2019.
However, having deemed that little progress was being made with Cefn Cribwr FC, the rugby and bowls sections of CCAC decided to progress a CAT on their own by proposing to take a lease over part of Cae Gof Playing Fields, namely the Bowls Pavilion and Green, 2 x rugby pitches and tennis courts. The revised proposal was agreed in principle by the CAT Steering Group on 7 December 2020. Under the new arrangements Cefn Cribwr FC have confirmed that they would wish to complete the separate lease of the Main Pavilion and 2 x football pitches with discussions presently ongoing.
CCAC were seeking to extend the existing bowls pavilion to cater for rugby, referee, disability and female sport needs with Conditional Consent for Planning Application P/20/624/FUL being approved on 4 November 2020. The Club were also looking to improve the condition of the rugby pitches which have been subject to an independent condition survey by Oolong Sports Pitch Consultancy in February 2020 under the CAT Business Support contract.
The Head of Operations - Community Services advised that CCAC had prepared detailed business and financial plans outlining their proposals to redevelop the Bowls Pavilion and improvements to both rugby pitches and to provide assurance on the viability and sustainability of the project. These had been reviewed by the Finance Department and the CAT Steering Group and were considered to demonstrate the financial viability of the project.
CCAC had also submitted funding applications to the CAT Fund that had been reviewed alongside the business and financial plans by the Finance Department and the Parks Department in the first instance and by the CAT Steering Group.
Details of this were shown in Table format in paragraph 4.8 of the report.
The Council’s Quantity Surveyor (Major Projects) had reviewed the building works included under the Bowls Pavilion Extension & Remedial Works proposal and had determined the estimated total cost of building works to be £154,441.55 which included a contingency of £20,144.55 (or 15%). CCAC had secured in principle funding totalling £40,000 from two external sources Cefn Cribwr Community Council (£20,000) and Ford Community Legacy Fund (£20,000) which was in addition to £11,000 the Club had earmarked from its own funds towards the cost.
The independent pitch condition surveys commissioned under the Council’s Business Support contract had been used by CCAC to inform the funding applications for the improvements to two rugby pitches (Pitch A and Pitch D) with quotations supporting the funding requested. The drainage and pitch improvements specified had been assessed by the Green Spaces and Bereavement Services Manager as regards technical content and were considered to be reasonable based upon a comparison of the corresponding condition surveys. The Finance Department had also reviewed both funding applications and concluded that works specified totalling £20,688.45 (Pitch A £9,043.20 and Pitch D £11,645.25) for drainage and pitch improvements could not be funded from the CAT Fund as they were revenue in nature and therefore did not qualify for capital funding. However, there was revenue funding under the Change Management Fund set aside specifically for drainage and pitch improvements that could be utilised for this part of the project.
The Head of Operations - Community Services confirmed that CCAC had also submitted a funding application to enable pitch maintenance equipment valued at £8,580.67 which was in addition to funding of £5,232.38 already provided under the CAT Fund to enable equipment to maintain the bowls green to be purchased. The funding applications and equipment specified had been assessed by both the Finance and Parks departments and considered to be reasonable.
The Deputy Leader extended his thanks to the CAT Officer for all the hard work he had committed to the report and its favourable outcome. He felt that the Council had a flexible CAT programme and urged other Clubs and Associations to come forward and follow in the footsteps of Cefn Cribbwr Athletic Club by taking ownership of assets that they reguarlarly used and had enjoyment from.
The Cabinet Member – Communities echoed the thanks extended to the CAT Officer who worked very hard and was extremely effective in his role. Though the process followed in this acquisition had been complex, it demonstrated what could be achieved when Clubs were offered to become Architects of their own destinies. He commended the Business Plan in this Transfer which included a different number of features as part of the CAT proposals.
The Cabinet Member – Wellbeing and Future Generations extended her thanks to the Cefn Cribbwr Athletic Club for their efforts in coming forward and taking over the responsibility of the facilities included as part of the CAT.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet approved:
(1) The business case (business and financial plans) submitted by CCAC to support the leasing of the Bowls Pavilion, bowls green, two rugby pitches and tennis courts at the Cae Gof Playing Fields by clearly demonstrating financial viability and sustainability of the project.
(2) The associated funding applications submitted by CCAC under the CAT and Change Management funds highlighted in paragraph 9.2 of the report.