The Bickerstaffe Record
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Cotterill on the Council, Leisure and culture

Getting a straight answer

07.25.07 | Comment?

I’ve been to two Council meetings in the last two nights, asked five questions and got one straight-ish answer.  So either it’s me not asking the questions right or it’s something else.  Just as a check, when I go to my ‘training needs analysis’ session at the Council tomorrow, I’ll be asking for support in the art of public speaking but more specifically asking understandable questions.  If in a year’s time I’m still only on a 20% questions answered hit rate, I’ll know it’s not me. For the record, the questions I asked and the responses I got were: 

 1) To SERCO manager (SERCO run the sports centres and swimming pools in West Lancashire under contract from West Lancs Council and its Leisure Trust set up) 
Q: What is the methodology for calculating the average overall price increase in any one year? A: We judge how to raise prices by reference to things like patronage and inflation 

2) To same SERCO manager

Q:  Can you give me a breakdown of the % change in patronage, for all the five facilities that you run, which make up your overall  patronage increase? 

A: We can’t yet monitor where people come from but we are putting in some software that will give us this information

3) To West Lancashire District Council officer responsible for leisure 

Q: What’s the position on Skem Sports Centre as far as SERCO investment is concerned? 

A:  When we signed the contract with SERCO it as agreed that the Sports Centre only had a five year shelf life.  We’ll be building a new wet/dry facility as part of the overall Skelmersdale development. 

4) To St Modwen North of England Director (preferred developer for town centre) 

Q: Will St Modwen’s we making a financial commitment to the carrying out of an independent Health impact Assessment as part of its development process? 

A: We really want to work with the PCT and have done so really well i n Edmonton North London and somewhere else (sorry, was losing will to live) 
5)  To St Modwen North of England Director again 
Q: What about the risk of the new College development not being part of the night time economy in the new town centre, given its FE status, and that therefore there might be a ‘blackhole’ in the development come the evening, which would be bad for the link between the River Tawd and the proposed High Street area.  What about working with the college on integration of other aspects of the town centre on their ‘campus’? 
A: Yes, you’re absolutely right and we’ll be looking at that.
mmm..  .all Q and As are a bit paraphrased but you get the point? By the way, on Q2, I’ve looked at the background data I requested, and patronage in the wealthier areas of

West Lancs went up, but went down in the poorer area of Skelmersdale.  I suspected so. 

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