Council still in chaos over its sports charges
Filton town council were left in utter chaos last night at a finance meeting which discussed its sports charges.
Last month councillors voted to increase charges by 5% for its facilities, however in a controversial move, excluded cycle speedway track and boules courts yet again. Both facilities cost Filton taxpayers in excess of £77,000 to build and are only used by clubs from outside of the town. The boules courts are mainly used by two teams captained by ex-Filton town councillors.
At the meeting leisure centre manager Lisa Timbrell, presented proposed charges for both the cycle track and boules courts for a second time, after her last report was rejected by councillors for being "too high". On this occasion councillors debated the new charges and decided that this time they were "too low".
Lisa Timbrell told the council she had made comparisons previously with Newport cycle speedway club who pay £500 per year to use the Wales track and so Filton should follow suit but this was rejected by councillors.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
It emerged part way through the debate that in fact Mrs Timbrell had privately met Filton South Glos councillor Roger Hutchinson, to discuss the cycle track charges and boules charges prior to the finance meeting. She explained that Mr Hutchinson had claimed that numbers for the club were low and that a charge of £150 was more appropriate. They also discussed boules charges. Mr Hutchinson is captain of one of the only teams to use the boules courts and is secretary of the Filton cycle speedway club as well as being a South Glos councillors representing the interests of Filton taxpayers.
During the meeting it also transpired that Filton cycle speedway club still have equipment being stored by the council for free on its premises, despite being requested to remove it by the end of December 2011. Councillor Andy Chubb, said the Mr Hutchinson had spoken to Neil Palmer,maintenance manager about the expensive equipment, however Mr Palmer, who was at the meeting, categorically stated to the public and councillors that no conversation with Mr Hutchinson had taken place. Councillor Chubb responded by saying "Oh well thats what Mr Hutchinson told me". Bill Moore, chair of finance requested the council write to Filton cycle club asking them to remove their equipment swiftly.
Mrs Timbrell answered questions relating to her proposals and explained that although the council were now asking her to increase the suggested charges, she had in fact tried to do this last month. There was utter confusion when councillors tried to understand how they would charge for the facilities to which Mrs Timbrell explained they must charge similarly to the other services they offer.
Anne Kenyon, Conservative councillors said "councillors hadn't made it clear to Lisa what they had expected of her"
During public questions, residents complained bitterly about the lack of council action and the fact they seemed to be obstructing the introduction of fair charging policy.
One lady resident said "I haven't been to one of these meetings before but to sit hear and listen to this is disgusting. You asked the leaisure centre manager to come up with charges and then turn them down. I run Filton football teams and we have to pay £43 a match to hire pitches and £17 to train on the tennis courts, yet you are continuing to subsidise boules and cycle track facilities people dont use"
Another resident complained about the state of the litter on Elm Park yet maintenance staff only two days ago, were seen cutting the enbankment around the cycle track in preparation for the cycle meeting from out of town clubs later this month. Litter remained strewn around the park. The resident complained that "The council have got their priorities all wrong and who's running this council"?
In November councillors attempted to vote on charging for both boules and cycle track but were repeatedly interrupted from the public gallery by Filton South Glos councillor Roger Hutchinson, who tried to stop the vote saying it wasnt fair on the teams. He subsequently wrote to the council saying that income would be lost from the Ratepayers pub if charges were introduced, but residents rejected this saying all other teams such as football, badminton,snooker all paid to use the sports and provided income to the Ratepayers.
One resident pointed out to the council that it's not Roger Hutchinson who owns the cycle track or Filton cycle club that own it, but Filton town council do and should set the charging. The resident said "For too long councillors have been under the impression that anything to do with this track has to be approved by councillor Hutchinson. He is no longer a Filton town councillor and has no right to try and influence this councils financial matters"
A journalist for a local magazine asked the council to clarify its position pointing out that this issue had now become a joke amongst resident and that they wonder why the council persists in appearing to protect and subsidise only these two sports. Councillor Moore replied that it was an ongoing issue.
A resident who play bowls for another club said "We have to pay membership fees, so why shouldn't the Filton boules team do the same, why were they getting special dispensation"?
Conservative councillor Rikki Teml told the meeting they must introduce across the board charging. He said they should charge Filton cycle club an annual fee for training and additional fee for using the courts for meetings. He also said charging for boules such as membership fees or pay as you play was right and fair.
On leaving the meeting, residents expressed disgust that the council could continue to discriminate against football teams and other sports by charging for them but not cycle speedway and boules, despite spending £77,000 plus maintenance costs on them. Some expressed a view that teams should start to boycott the facilities and start a campaign to boycott the leisure centre until the council see sense.
Full council meet 27th March to discuss the finance committees findings.