The Bickerstaffe Record

Breaking News, Cotterill on the Council, Leisure and culture

And the Serco decision is…….no decision

01.26.11 | 1 Comment

As I’ve reported, West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust met last night. 

On the agenda was a discussion about whether it would accept, effectively on behalf of its delivery partners Serco (because the Trust itself has little money), whether it would take a voluntary reduction in the subsidy paid to it by the Council.  

I had written to Trustees to suggest that a reasonable reduction might be on the same lines as the reduction in the central government grant to West Lancashire Borough Council.  It was, I suggested, reasonable that Serco’s shareholders share the same pain, in monetary value terms, as West Lancashire’s residents.

I do know what was discussed at the meeting, and I do not know what proposals may or may not have been put on the table.  The fact that I am not allowed this information, even though I have asked specifically for it, is a matter of democratic deficit, but I won’t go on about that here.

What I have been told is that no decision was made by the Trustees last night, and that the matter will be considered further at the next board meeting on March 8th.  This is on a matter which was first raised with the board in the Autumn, and I am unclear as to why a decision could not be taken last night.

The consequence of a failure to take a decision, however, is clear enough.  The council’s budget will be set on 23rd February, and those setting the budget will need to assume that, as under the present contract, they need to fork out in the order of a million pounds to the Trust in continuing subsidy.

This means that items of expenditure that might have been included in the budget, had a voluntary reduction been announced, will not be included in that budget. 

Just as handy examples, that might have included expenditure on concessionary travel for older and disabled people, or even the funding of free swimming for children under 16.

The Leisure Trust and Serco have serious questions to answer on this matter, and I’ll keep on asking them, because that it my job as an elected represenative – irrespective of how much information is withheld from me.

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