The Committee considered the following report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues
1.1 To advise committee of delays in progressing discussions on an alternative management model in the form of a long-term lease at the site and a request from the Agreement holder for additional support until a decision is made on the management model.
2.1 Committee is asked to consider the requested additional support by Rosario YC and:
· to agree to provide a maximum financial payment of up to £2,000 per month for staff costs, subject to vouching of fully evidenced expenditure from November 2020 to March 2021
3.0 Main report
3.1 Ulidia Playing Fields is subject to a Partner Agreement with Rosario YC. The Agreement is for a term of five years to the last day of August 2020 with an option to extend for a further two years. The Partner Agreement requires the Club to deliver sports development outcomes based on the Club’s annual plan and to assume responsibility for day to day operation of the site including key holding, cleaning, security, health and safety duties etc. Council supports the Club in the form of four quarterly payments of £5,000 based on satisfactory delivery of the sports development plan and compliance with operational requirements.
3.2 During the term of the Agreement Council developed the site and installed a floodlit synthetic pitch.
3.3 A meeting was held at the beginning of December 2018, attended by political representatives, club representatives and officers. Rosario YC made a presentation highlighting the scale and scope of the Club’s activities, how their activities support the Belfast Agenda and other relevant strategies, their vision for further development of the site in the future and their ambition to assume full responsibility for running the site.
3.4 The club has since presented a sports development plan which details their ambition to extend their programming by developing the site further, this would be based on them holding a long term lease.
3.5 Departmental Officers have been working with the club to further progress discussions around their plans and aspiration for a potential Community Asset Transfer, with the club looking at providing detail information demonstrating clear community benefit from their plans. Due to difficulties arising from the Covid19 outbreak progress has been stalled. Officers intend to make contact Rosario in the near future to ascertain how this is progressing.
3.6 At the December 2018 meeting the Club highlighted their concerns that the development of the site to include the synthetic floodlit pitch will now require them to operate well beyond their original commitment due to the intensified hourly use, extended opening hours and the move from seasonal to yearlong programming. They further identified additional risks to site users in particular control of parking due to higher volumes of traffic with concurrent bookings at evenings, weekends and outside daylight hours. They requested that Council provide an additional monthly amount of £2,000 to support them in creating part-time posts to operate the site to Council’s standards for the term of the Partner Agreement. This request was approved by People and Communities committee in January 2019 to be effective until the end of March 2020. This end date was in anticipation that a new management model would be in place in January 2020.
3.7 Following the Covid19 outbreak the staff were furloughed, as activities have resumed at the site staff have now returned to full duties. The Club vice-chair wrote to the Director of Neighbourhood Services on 23rd September 2020 (see appendix 1) requesting that the £2,000 additional payment be resumed until discussions on the management model are completed.
3.8 Financial Implications
An amount of £10,000 will be required to support this request from November 2020 to March 2021, there is allowance for this within existing estimates.
3.9 Equality or Good Relations Implications/Rural Needs Assessment
There are no additional impacts related to this report.”
The Committee agreed to provide a maximum financial payment of up to £2,000 per month for staff costs, subject to vouching of fully evidenced expenditure from November 2020 to March 2021.