Residents have been contacting me concerned about a petition circulating that suggests that Waverley Borough Council will not be upgrading the Woolmer Hill sports pitches and pavilion.
This is misleading and factually incorrect. Mayor John Robini has shared the following statement to Haslemere town councillors from WBC Cllr Mark Merryweather, Portfolio holder for Finance, Assets and Commercial Services. He wrote:
The Council has not said or done anything that could reasonably be interpreted as a decline in its support for the Woolmer Hill facility (which it owns) or its commitment to the projects and proposals (from WBC and WHSA) to upgrade both the pavilion and the pitches. Quite the opposite in fact: in adapting to Covid and the Government’s inadequate financial response to it, our “revenue” funding sources have been exhausted and so we have pivoted to finding alternative funding to that portion of the overall projects’ cost that has been lost through no fault of our own. The remainder is unaffected.
It would be highly regrettable if any confusion were to be created (even unintentionally) between the Council’s ambition to invest in the facility and how that investment is funded.
The following is a brief update on where we are.
There are 3 Pavillion project blocks underway:
1. “Main” Works. This covers (i) Feasibility, designs and planning; (ii) the Cadet build works comprising the ground floor extension and remodelling; (iii) the main WHSA build works for the lift, stairs and small front terrace, and (iv) the build stage project costs. Estimated cost: c£0.5m, and funding:
- Up to the 2017/18 budget, the £0.5m estimated cost was to be funded 100% from a £1m Wey Hill project “enabling” budget. However, in 2017/18 that funding was not only cut by £250k but also made conditional on progress of the Wey Hill project.
- No attempt, let alone progress, was made to secure alternative funding to replace that £250k cut until 2019/20. Alternative sources have been identified and are being progressed sufficient to fund if successful.
2. “Upgrade” Works. This comprises works by WBC on (i) energy efficiency in the plant room, LED lighting and insulation, and (ii) repair or even replacement of the roof. Estimated cost: c£95k / £130k
- No attempt was made to secure funding prior to the 2020/21 budget, when we included a £70k General Fund revenue contribution as part of a package including outside sources. However, that £70k contribution was, reluctantly, one of the 14 contributions that had to be reviewed in the 2020/21 Covid Contingency Revised Budget which the Council passed 49:1:0.
- Part of the contingency review included prospects for alternative funding, and other sources have been identified sufficient to fund if successful.
3. “Grant” Works. These comprise WHSA projects, supported by WBC, that fall into 2 main areas (i) extended front terrace and second stair; remodelled first floor, and rear balcony, and (ii) side terrace and refurbishment of changing rooms. Regardless of the cost of these proposals, it has always been intended by both WHSA and WBC that they will be wholly funded from external grants to be procured by WHSA (from, for example, Sport England and the London Marathon). WBC have and will continue to support that.
WHSA has ambitions to improve the paying pitches at the facility. As with the Pavillion “Grant” Works, the costs will be wholly funded from grants to be procured by WHSA.
For completeness I should add that:
- WHSA requested a funding update directly and privately from officers even before the Budget was considered by Council in February, but nevertheless were provided with an appropriate response that communicated the uncertainty of the funding environment; and Liz <Townsend> and I have also recently received representations from WHSA which we’ve passed to officers for assessment and cross matching with previous project & financial data.