Denbighshire council cabinet discuss options for tourism sites


Terry Canty

DENBIGHSHIRE County Council’s cabinet was urged to consider more than 30 questions ahead of a meeting to discuss Rhyl Sun Centre and Prestatyn’s Nova. 

Members of the authority’s cabinet are due to discuss options for the future of the Rhyl Suncentre, Nova and North Wales Bowls Centre, Prestatyn, after Clwyd Leisure entered voluntary administration. 

Questions from Vale of Clwyd MP Chris Ruane and AM Ann Jones were put to members ahead of today (Tuesday's) meeting. 

Mr Ruane said: “Both Ann Jones AM and I appreciate the situation Denbighshire County Council has found itself in but there are a number of questions which remain unanswered as to how the facilities were allowed to deteriorate so much. 

“We also need to know what the long-term implications are of keeping the Nova closed for so long and the permanent closure of the Suncentre and how this will impact on Prestatyn and Rhyl.” 

The 34 questions for Denbighshire County Council include how much profit was made by the facilities compared with other in-house Denbighshire tourism assets; What help can be given to those who have recently purchased annual passes to the facilities; and what will happen to the council’s annual contribution to Clwyd Leisure? 

Others questions seek answers as to why the Nova can’t be opened this summer using temporary staff, what will happen to Welsh Government free swimming funding if there is no pool available in the town and what lessons can be learnt from the collapse of Clwyd Leisure. 

A council report recommends The Sun Centre remains closed as a watersports attraction with the option of a private company running it as dry indoor adventure complex being explored. 

It recommends the redevelopment of Prestatyn’s Nova Centre with a forecast autumn 2015 opening and the reopening of The North Wales Bowls Centre within weeks with a programme of small improvements planned. 

The Nova Centre was plastered with posters at the start of the week seemingly criticising Clwyd Leisure bosses. 

Mr Ruane added: “Members of the public are quite rightly concerned over what has gone on and although we can look to the future and can look at the opportunities this situation presents we do need to assess how this came about.” 

The questions are:

 1.      What are the rules governing yearly inspections of DCC assets a) that are in house b) that are managed by arms length organisations

2.     How much has been spent by DCC on each of its in house assets in terms of a) maintenance b) enhancement?

3.      How does this compare to the arms length facilities? 

4.      How much was spent overall by DCC on its in house visitor attractions in each year for which data is available?

5.      How much did DCC spend on its Clwyd Leisure coastal facilities in the three years prior to the establishment of Clwyd Leisure?

6.      How much has DCC "saved" by establishing Clwyd Leisure?

7.      When were the difficulties in Clwyd Leisure first noticed?

8.      Who were the key personnel responsible for monitoring Clwyd Leisure and ensuring that DCC assets were kept up to a reasonable standard? Was there enough cooperation and coordination between key departments like finance, tourism and regeneration to ensure best short term and long-term value for money for DCC?

9.      How much was given to Clywd Leisure by DCC in each year since Clwyd Leisure operated?

10.  What were the terms and conditions attached to this funding? Who monitored these terms and conditions?

11.  How much profit was made by each of the Clwyd Leisure facilities in each of the years that they were in operation? How did this compare to the in house Denbighshire's tourism assets?

12.  Have any other leisure companies been asked if they want to take over these facilities either as wet or dry weather facilities? Has the net been cast wide is it possible to have details?

13.  Will the size and scale of the costs of refurbishment be made available to any private sector company willing to take over the facilities? Or will it be judged to be commercially confident as it was in the case of the Sky Tower?

14.  Why can't the Nova be opened this summer using temporary staff?

15.  What will happen to Welsh Government free swimming funding if there is no pool available?

16.  What assessment has been made of the closure on long-term usage patterns? Will pass holders and others go to alternative venues and not come back when the nova is reopened?

17.  What help can be given to those who have just bought annual passes to CL facilities i.e. Is it tough luck or will DCC try to accommodate them in other DCC facilities?

18.  Are the costings arrived at by DCC for refurbishment been made available for public scrutiny?

19.  Has DCC applied for tourism funding from the Gwynt Y Mor wind turbine fund?

20.  How does DCCs bids compare to Conway county councils bids in terms of size and innovation?

21.  What assessment has DCC made of using funds raised on the coast such as funding from a) Environmental fixed penalty notices b) parking fines and car parking charges and spending the money raised on the coastal areas. 

22.  Can these funds be used to improve the tourist offer?

23.  What assessment has DCC made of allowing part or all of the profits raised by successful coastal events like Prom on the Proms and the Rhyl Air Show in the coastal area to increase the number of future coastal events and improving its coastal facilities such as those left by Clwyd Leisure?  i.e. do DCC to treat these events as cash cows or investment opportunities to create more and better facilities

24.  What assessment has DCC made of the establishment of a Hovercraft service landing outside the Sun centre on the viability of the Sun Centre?

25.  What assets and funding debts did Clwyd Leisure leave?

26.  Have the public in Rhyl and Presatyn been properly consulted on DCC proposals?

27.  Have the private sector been consulted? Will the reduced footfall have a domino effect on other leisure facilities in the towns?

28.  What plans are in place to maximise European Funding for replacement coastal facilities in the final 7 years of EU structural funds?

29.  How much has been spent by DCC on promotion of its facilities and the wider tourism offer on the coast? What is the tourism advertising and marketing budget  for DCC as a whole and the coastal area in particular ?How does this compare to other authorities with tourism interests e.g. Conwy Gwynedd and Anglesey?

30.  What assessment has been made of the performance of Denbighshire's past and future tourism strategies in relation to other coastal authorities in north Wales?

31.  What will happen to DCCs annual contribution to Clwyd Leisure?

32.  Can DCC’s subsidy be used to improve the tourism offer and increase footfall to Rhyl and Prestatyn?

33.  Will the proposed Aquatic Centre need public subsidy and what is the likely timescale for it to open? What are the proposals to enhance the tourism and leisure offer in the interim?

34.  What lessons can be learnt from the collapse of Clwyd Leisure?

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