(NOTE: Councillor R. Sparks declared an interest in this item and remained in the meeting for its consideration)
The Committee considered a report on the 2022/23 Revenue and Capital Budget Monitoring reports for the Housing, Regeneration & Property, Place and Sustainability and Leisure and Recreation Services for the period up to the 31st December, 2022. It was noted the main budgetary pressure were being faced within Leisure Services which had predicted £907k overspend to year end. Overall, the revenue budget was forecasting a £407k overspend but, based on current reductions, it should be close to target at the year end. The capital budget was forecasting a £25,999k underspend, whilst the Housing Revenue Account was forecasting a £651k underspend.
The following questions/issues were raised on the report:
· Reference was made to the income shortfall within the provisions markets, due to low occupancy rates, and clarification sought on what remedial action was being taken to increase those rates.
The Head of Regeneration advised one of the issues related to the level of rent prospective leaseholders were able to pay for units in the markets compared to target rentals. Consideration was being given to how the units could be made more attractive to potential leaseholders and to how those could be marketed. For example, while vacant units were currently advertised by means of tender documents, future marketing could involve promotion via social media.
· Reference was made to the increased car parking income at the car parks at Burry Port Harbour and whether it could be possible for that income to be used to provide additional toilet facilities at the harbour. Currently, there was only one toilet cubicle available at the rear of the coffee shop to serve 2 beaches.
The Head of Regeneration advised the Leisure Division was in discussion with the Town Council in that regard and he would raise the matter with the Head of Leisure and for a response to be forwarded to the Councillor.
· Reference was made to the report being for the accounting period up to the end of December 2022, some three months out of date. It was enquired whether future reports could include more up to date information.
· With regard to the £907k projected overspend within the Leisure Services Division, clarification was sought on what measures were being introduced to address the covid slump and encouraging more people to use the leisure facilities.
The Committee was advised that the next report on the agenda for the committee’s consideration that morning relating to the Draft Leisure Business Plan 2023-24 which addressed that very point detailing step by step objectives and timelines for actions.
The Director of Communities reminded the Committee that during the covid pandemic the Council’s indoor leisure facilities had been closed and the government grant to support those had ceased in April 2022. Subsequently, the division had worked extremely hard to rebuild the service and current usage levels were 95% of pre-pandemic levels with visitors to the Country parks also increasing. Those participation rates were encouraging, and the Division was entering the new financial year on track with regard to membership levels.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the Revenue and Capital Budget Monitoring Report be received.