The Executive Director of Neighbourhood and Communties submitted a report which outlined that discussions had taken place with Askham Bryan College on partnership ventures in Middlesbrough. Askham Bryan College have expressed an interest to manage the Council owned Newham Grange Leisure Farm which would reduce the Councils revenue subsidy on the Farm from £60,000 per annum to £0 per annum for 2014/15 onwards based on a full year savings.
The report stated that the opportunity follows an earlier Council decision to go through an open tender exercise which resulted in a contract not being issued. However, Askham Bryan College were supporting partners in the original tender bid and are now the lead partner. The medium term financial plan requires a £60,000 per annum saving to be made in 2014/15 and the proposal outlined in this report achieves this. The proposal also achieves the level of saving that would have been achieved if the tender was let.
The report outlined that Askham Bryan College is the largest agricultural and horticultural College in the UK with 3,900 students and 10 sites in northern England. A tender was issued for Newham Grange Leisure Farm in November 2012 with the intention of transferring the Farm as Community Asset Transfer to an alternative provider in April 2013 on a 10 year lease. The aim was to remove the current £60,000 per annum subsidy and maintain the services provided by the Leisure farm.
One bid was received but it was not successful. Askham Bryan College were a supporter of the applicant and helped develop the bid. They have now offered to take on the lease in their own name. Askham Bryan College would accept all existing Farm staff on TUPE arrangements, manage the leisure farm and undertake immediate restoration to improve the leisure offer. The Farm would also be used for land based horticultural and animal husbandry training with no detriment to the public leisure offer. It is anticipated that one room on the Farm would be used as a permanent classroom. The aim was to grant a lease with effect from April 2014 and the map, attached at Appendix 1 of the report, shows the land boundary for the Farm.
The options were outlined stating that this would serve to enhance the long term sustainability of Newham Grange Leisure Farm and make it exempt from the impact of further Council cuts for the duration of the lease. It would also achieve the £60,000 per annum savings required in 2014/15.
That approval be given to proceed with the partnership with Askham Bryan College for Newham Grange Leisure Farm.
That the Director of Neighbourhoods and Communities be authorised to continue negotiations and be given delegated authority to approve outstanding legal property, financial and human resource issues, following discussion with the Executive Member for Environment.
That the Director of Neighbourhoods and Communities be authorised to continue negotiations and be given delegated authority to approve the lease following discussion with the Executive Member for Environment.
The decisions were supported by the following reasons:
The proposal ensures that Newham Grange Leisure Farm continues to offer a public leisure facility to at least the current standard and more than likely to a much higher standard than at present.
The proposals would lead to a revenue saving of approximately £60,000 per annum on Newham Grange Leisure Farm as set out in the medium term financial plan.