Questions submitted by Members under Procedure Rule No.9 will be published as a supplement following closure of the deadline.
The Chairman advised the meeting that one question pursuant to Council Procedure Rule No.9 had been submitted to the meeting. This had been circulated to all Members, separately to the agenda.
The Chairman invited, Councillor John McNeill, Ward Member for Market Rasen, to put his question to the Leader, as follows: -
"One of the many achievements of the current administration at West Lindsey was to build a dry-sided leisure facility at Market Rasen, a decision I fully supported and an outcome I am very proud of. This fulfilled a manifesto commitment made by West Lindsey Conservatives to complete the leisure centre last year.
"However, West Lindsey Conservatives also made a manifesto commitment to support bringing forward plans to deliver a swimming pool at the Market Rasen site, where this was able to be done on a sustainable and economic basis. This is something I continue to fully support.
"I am given to understand that the Assistant Director, Finance Business Support & Property Services has recently completed work on the viability of building and operating a swimming pool at the leisure centre in Market Rasen.
"Is the Leader aware of the detail of this work and can he share this with the Council?
"If bringing a swimming pool to Market Rasen Leisure Centre has been determined as unviable, is this on an operational basis – i.e. there is insufficient evidence to suggest that enough users will make use of a swimming pool – or, on the longer term capital financing requirements of such a project – i.e. how we afford the £4-6m required?
"If the viability of a swimming pool at Market Rasen rests upon the capital financing requirements, would the Leader agree that action to consider innovative ways of funding a swimming pool is needed? Would the Leader agree that, for example, one of the properties in our commercial investment property portfolio could be sold and the internal borrowing applied to the construction of a swimming pool at Market Rasen?
Councillor John McNeill”
The Leader of the Council, Owen Bierley, responded as follows: -
“Thank you for your question Councillor McNeill
Officers have undertaken some work on the feasibility of a swimming pool at Market Rasen. A high-level business case has been developed and is to be presented to the Corporate Policy and Resources Committee for consideration in December.
My understanding is that the financial case is proving challenging due to the cost of borrowing required for the scheme, but please be assured that Officers always seek innovative funding solutions as part of their work.
Whilst as you suggest an investment property could be sold, the receipt from the sale would need to repay outstanding borrowing in line with our Investment Policy and the impact of the loss of rent income on future budgets would need to be understood.
Internal borrowing is not always sustainable over the long term as we spend our reserves over time in schemes prioritised to deliver our Corporate Plan objectives.
Whilst financial considerations form a key part of this work our five case business model will also ensure that we take into account wider considerations including:
· The strategic case – assesses how the project will meet corporate priorities
· The commercial case – is there a market for the activity and will it generate income?
· The legal case – do we have the legal power and
· The operational case – what is the business need?
Thank you again for your question Councillor McNeill”
Following indications to speak, the Chairman reminded the Chamber that questions under procedure rule No.9 were not for debate by other Members.
In response, the Member suggested that the Chairman could permit such action, and considered time allowed for such, given the short agenda. Failing that constitution allowed for procedure rules to be suspended. It was moved that procedure rules be suspended, but this was not duly seconded nor the specific rule to be suspended identified.
The Chairman was insistent with the Member that he would not be permitting further debate on this matter, and that the Member had at his disposal other methods by which he could raise such matters.