The Chafford Sports Complex report was presented to Cabinet by Councillor Viddy Persaud, Cabinet Lead Member for Public Protection and Safety.
Chafford Sports Complex is owned by Harris Academy Rainham as part of the wider Harris Academy Federation. It is used by the Academy for school use. Community use provision is currently operated, outside of school hours, as part of the Council’s Leisure Management Contract by SLM Ltd. Cabinet previously agreed at their meeting on 17 November 2017 to continue funding the management of the Complex until December 2018.
The report before Cabinet is to consider the outcome of the consultation which sought the views of stakeholders on the option for Council funding for the community use of the Centre to cease.
470 responses were received all wishing to see the Chafford Centre remain open. The responses were broken down into six themes and can be viewed within the report appendices.
The Sports Complex is now 47 years old and in need of significant capital investment if it is to continue to operate as a publicly accessible sports complex. Indeed, it could be said that the Complex is at the end of its life with ongoing investment being required just to keep it open due to the age of the buildings. The Complex would also require a significant ongoing revenue subsidy for a management fee to SLM since unlike other leisure centres it does not self-fund and is highly unlikely to do so in the future under any circumstances while it is a dual use site and only available outside school hours. In a competitive market, the Complex does not meet with current expectations for the quality of facilities and the usage of this Sports Complex is significantly lower than the use of others. The SLM contract made a saving and helped the Borough to close the budget gap. The financial implications of keeping the centre open are untenable.
SLM have provided the Council with indicative essential maintenance costs to keep Chafford Sports Complex open for a further one year and a further three years from June 2019. To keep the whole complex open for a further year, the investment required would be an estimated £456,000, and for a further three years an estimated £577,000. To just keep the swimming pool open for either one year or three years, the estimated cost is the same at £375,000.
Three quarters of the schools that have been using Chafford are now using the Sapphire Facility. The Disability Swim Club has indicated they will relocate to Abbs Cross. Alternative provision is located at a distance of 3.4 miles from the Chafford Sports Complex and a feasibility study is in place to consider new, modern provision in the South of the Borough.
Reprovision in the area must be considered particularly looking at the model used by the Becontree Centre which developed on a modular basis. With major developments, particularly the Beam Park site, innovative methods of construction for new provision are being looked at and evaluated as people in the South of the Borough need a first class provision. The current complex poses a health and safety issue and to keep the Centre open would require a significant spend.