Confidential appendices 4,5,6 and 7 to agenda item 6.
In relation to the Byron Leisure Park, Cabinet had resolved to “agree that the development of ‘Byron Leisure Park’ should be based on Option 4 (Section 2.5.1) of the officer report, ie. to provide a new principal leisure centre; the development of a new ‘Byron Hall’ facility, at another location, in partnership and subsequent to a commercial review; a new skateboard park; the relocation of ‘The Bridge’ within the Byron site; associated Public Realm improvements; together with the disposal of land for residential development. The new leisure centre to open by 1 February 2010;” A call?in notice was subsequently received.
The decision had been called-in on two grounds:
· inadequate consultation with stakeholders prior to the decision;
· the absence of adequate evidence on which to base the decision.
The Chairman invited a Member representing the signatories to the call?in to speak. The Member expressed his concern at Cabinet’s decision regarding Byron Leisure Parkas he felt that the decision had been hastily made without consultation with stakeholders, in particular the Borough’s ethnic minority community, who frequently used the facility. He was also critical that the report approved by Cabinet reassured that there would be an extensive review to determine the business case however there was no commitment to replace the facility. In addition, he stated that Byron Hall with its extensive car parking facilities was by far the largest of its kind and nothing compared with it in neighbouring boroughs. He referred to Harrow’s Compact agreement which set out a framework for working relationships between local Government, the wider statutory sector, the private sector, voluntary and community sectors. The idea was to encourage and build good partnerships and work jointly in order to provide effective services to local people and communities within the Borough. He felt that, contrary to the Compact agreement, users such as Harrow Association of Disabled people and community users had not been consulted. He added that the Equalities Impact Assessment had been inadequately completed. Furthermore, he felt that the decisions ought to have been considered, in the first instance, at either the Town Centre Major Projects Panel and/or the Local Development Framework Panel. Some Members and expert advisors of those Panels felt perturbed that they had been omitted from any decision making process relating to the revised Leisure Park. The Member also felt that inadequate evidence had been provided to support the decision made by Cabinet and requested that the decision regarding the Byron Leisure Park be referred to Cabinet for reconsideration.
In response, the Portfolio Holder Finance and Portfolio Co-ordination made the following points:
· there were other facilities within Harrow that could accommodate large numbers of people.
· there were also similar facilities in neighboring boroughs such as the Advait Centre in Brent and the Jain Centre in Potters Bar;
· a commercial review to determine the business case for the Byron Leisure Park would be undertaken in order to identify community needs and establish a new facility in a more suitable location. Consultation would take place at the relevant time;
· the financial costings of the following four options had been considered and the most appropriate option, bearing in mind the Authority’s financial position, was agreed:-
i The was no reprovision for Byron Hall
ii Byron Hall to be located elsewhere
iii Byron Hall could be refurbished
iv Byron Hall to be replaced;
· the decision taken by Cabinet was not contrary to Harrow’s Compact agreement.
Members of the Sub-Committee asked questions on a number of issues. The consultation process and alternative accommodation was highlighted as a central issue.
Members of the Sub-Committee, having considered all the evidence, summarised their views relating to the grounds for call-in. Based on the written and oral submissions, and having been put to a vote, it was;
RESOLVED: That the grounds for the call-in be rejected and the decision of the Cabinet on 8 November 2007 relating to Byron Leisure Park be implemented.
(Note: Councillors B E Gate and Jerry Miles wished to be recorded as having abstained from voting in relation to “The absence of adequate evidence on which to base a decision” as grounds for call in).