Future delivery of Culture and Sport
On 23rd November, our councillors agreed that Culture and Sport services will transfer to a charitable trust which is anticipated to take over the running of certain services on behalf of the council from 1st April 2018. You can watch their deliberations as part of our webcast archive service.
The council manages a range of Culture and Sport services, including 16 sports centres, 14 swimming pools, 37 libraries, 11 museums, two ski centres and an aquarium. Around 1,500 employees work in Culture and Sport, representing around 10 percent of the council’s workforce.
The business case agreed by councillors proposed some additions to the facilities which will be managed by the trust, including 13 town halls. This will enable the trust to be best supported in its formative years by using the halls as potential venues for performances and cultural activities as well as allowing the council to deliver its strategic priorities and maximise the financial benefit of using a trust mechanism.
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In March 2016, our Education, Learning and Leisure (ELL) Committee agreed that council officers and consultants should investigate alternative ways of delivering Culture, Sport and Community, Learning and Development (CLD). Find out more in the alternative service delivery options report (pdf 106KB).
In October 2016, council officers presented an outline business case to the committee which set out a series of different options:
- outsourcing the delivery of the services
- creating a public-private partnership to deliver the services
- maintaining the status quo
- creating a direct service organisation (the services would continue to be delivered directly by the council)
- creating a charitable trust, wholly-owned by the council, to deliver the services on our behalf
The committee commented on the different options and agreed that CLD should be removed from the scope of any future work. We will continue to deliver the CLD service directly.
In November 2016, the outline business case and committee's comments were presented to Full Council and councillors agreed that the creation of a charitable trust is their preferred option for further consideration.
It was decided that a public consultation should take place to explore the option of a charitable trust further.
A one month online and face-to-face public consultation took place in December 2016.
We used infographics (pdf 197KB) and an online survey to engage the public and ask them if they agreed that the council should continue to explore the option of a charitable trust to deliver Culture and Sport in Aberdeenshire.
A series of face-to-face discussions with community groups took place during the same period.
The results of the consultation showed that there were 1,073 respondents to the online consultation with 60.5 percent of respondents agreeing that the council should continue exploring whether a trust could deliver Culture and Sport in Aberdeenshire and 39.5 percent of respondents disagreeing.
The results also showed that 51 responses were gathered through face-to-face consultation through CLD networks and community council forums and that 58 percent of respondents agreed and 42 percent disagreed.
In January 2017, the results of the consultation were presented to the Full Council and they agreed that the council should begin the development of a full business case for a charitable trust.
As part of the development of a business case for the charitable trust, a company has been registered with Companies House and an application submitted to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regular (OSCR) for charitable status in principle.
Aberdeenshire Council will remain the owner of the properties from which the trust will deliver services and will be its sole shareholder, with culture and sport staff employed by the trust.
The council will also continue to ensure its strategic priorities are delivered through a contract with the trust and the trust’s performance will be monitored by councillors on the Communities Committee.
The trust will be governed by a board of ten directors, including three councillors and one employee of the trust.
Staff engagement has been a fundamental part of the development of the business case and this will continue, with additional engagement with volunteers and regular customers who use the facilities managed by the trust taking place in 2018.
The business case presented to councillors highlighted the potential for a negative impact on the financial case if the Scottish Government chooses to agree with the recently published report by the Barclay Review of Non-Domestic Rates.
The Barclay report contained a recommendation to cease business rates relief to council arm’s length organisations in Scotland and the council is currently investigating what this means for Aberdeenshire.
Councillors have agreed they can call-in the decision to proceed to trust during the first three months of 2018, particularly if there is a change in the net financial position by more than £100,000 presented in the business case.