Councillors of South Somerset District Council’s District Executive Committee have voted in favour of giving serious consideration to taking over the running of the Westlands Sports and Leisure Complex in Yeovil.
At yesterday’s meeting, the Members of District Executive Committee agreed to look fully at the possibility of taking on the management of the complex which is currently owned by Finmeccanica – AgustaWestland and is scheduled to close at the end of this month.
AW announced on the 12th May to close the Complex at the end of September 2015. Their decision was taken due to increasing costs and the growing subsidy AW has had to make to keep the complex open, and the impending major investments required to modernise the facilities.
As part of its considerations today the District Executive agreed further evaluation work to be undertaken on the complex roof structures, the condition and remaining life of the electrical services installation and mains equipment, mechanical services installation, retaining walls structures and VAT implications. The findings from this work are expected to be presented back for decision by the Executive at its next meeting on Thursday 8th October 2015.
The decision made by the District Executive today, is just the first stage of a process which will see a series of discussions and negotiations happen between AW, SSDC and other partners.
Councillor Ric Pallister, Leader of South Somerset District Council and Chairman of the Executive Committee said, “Today’s decision is an important first step in considering all the financial risks and costs that must be taken into account before a final decision is taken.
“This is a multi-million pound project with both capital and revenue consequences for the people of South Somerset if the Council decides to take over the Westland complex and we must be sure we have all the detailed facts. The loss of the unique sporting, community, entertainment and conferencing facilities would be a major blow to Yeovil and the District as a whole if it was to close and this is also a major consideration.
“We cannot afford to be ruled by our hearts rather than our heads but equally the public support for the Council to save the complex was impressively demonstrated today and we will be very mindful of that public expectation and wishes when, later this autumn, we are asked to make one of the biggest decisions this Council will take in many years”.
Councillor Sylvia Seal, Portfolio Holder for Arts and Entertainment added, “There are considerable public benefits for both Yeovil, South Somerset and further afield if the running of the Complex is taken over by the District Council. District Executive weighed up the findings of the feasibility exercise alongside the risks and has now agreed to give serious consideration to taking over the running of the facility”.
A Project Board will now be formed to assess the risks and a further report will be presented at SSDC District Executive meeting on Thursday 8th October 2015.