PROPOSALS for a trust for Newport’s leisure services were kicked into the long grass for the time being - after senior councillors tonight called for more information.
Newport council’s Labour-run cabinet expressed caution over proposals to save £400,000 by putting much of Newport’s leisure and sport service into a trust.
At the meeting cabinet members agreed for officers to look at the issue again with a further report to go back to cabinet.
They had been presented with a recommendation for senior officers to establish a business plan for the trust and to delegate authority to an officer to implement and establish a trust, but did not enact them.
Council leader Bob Bright told the meeting: “I think we need a lot more research. I think we need to do a lot more work before we make a final decision. ”
Both Cllr Bright and cabinet member for leisure Cllr Debbie Wilcox said the £400,000 proposed saving for the trust was a small sum of money.
Education cabinet member Cllr Bob Poole said he didn’t “like giving the family jewels away” and said it “is not a lot we are getting from this”.
However Shelia Davies, strategic director for place, said £400,000 is the equivalent of not closing Newport Centre, while chief executive Will Godfrey said it wasn’t a small sum in the contact of the authority’s medium term financial plan.
Before cabinet took its decision Cllr Bright said what the authority’s neighbours are doing with leisure trusts would need to be looked at detail, and said they been in a worse financial situation than Newport while they started.
Cllr Bright told the Argus after the meeting: “These are not huge savings at the moment.
“We need to dig deeper into the detail. I don’t want to transfer this to a trust and continue to finance the capital outlay unless I am absolutely convinced it can make substantial savings to the council.”
Cllr Bright said there was still every chance the council could still go ahead with the proposals – and said it would take at least a month for officers to do the work needed.
Under the trust plans the council would save more than £400,000, in large part because the structure would earn a discount on business rates.
The trust could include the Newport International Sports Village, Newport Centre, the Active Living Centre and Caerleon Golf Club.
Being the commissioner of its services, Newport would retain strategic control of the activities of the trust which would still be funded by the authority.