(a) That the Executive Director of Place be instructed to write to Queen Elizabeth School Foundation Trustees to give formal notice to withdraw from the dual use management agreement on the 31.3.24.
(b) That officers continue to engage with the school during this transitional period and work with them to approach the Education and Skills Funding Agency to apply for exceptional circumstances funding in recognition of the change in contractual arrangements.
(c) That officers work alongside Queen Elizabeth School in identifying ways to maximise the availability of leisure facilities for school and community use and provide advice to any displaced users who may need assistance in identifying opportunities to maintain their activity levels.
(d) That a bid for one off capital funding (up to a max of £150,000) be included in Dorset Councils 2023/24 capital budget process. If successful, this funding would be Dorset Council’s contribution towards the replacement of the All-Weather Pitch.
Reasons for the decision
The existing dual use agreement permits the Council to give Queen Elizabeth School Foundation Trustees a 2-year notice to withdraw from managing the leisure centre.
There is a good level of alternative provision within the locality with seven public leisure facilities within a 20 min drive time of Queen Elizabeth Leisure Centre (QELC), three of which are owned by Dorset Council. Similarly, there are several large private and budget leisure clubs within a 10-mile radius.
A decision to withdraw would enable the Council to make a revenue saving of around £550,000 per annum.
The leisure centre is owned by the Foundation Trustees and any decisions around the future operation of the site would be for them as the land and property owner. The Council would be keen to support them during this transitional period with applications for exceptional factor funding as well as identifying ways to maximise school and community use of the facilities.
The all-weather pitch is a vital facility and one-off funding (up to £150k) could enable this to be replaced during 2023/24, benefitting both Queen Elizabeth School (QES) and the community. This would also allow QES to generate enough income to create a sinking fund for any future replacement.