Agenda item

Release of additional Funds for the Transfer of Equipped Play Area at School Lane, Dereham (Agenda item 11)

Report of Mark Kiddle-Morris, Executive Member for Assets & Strategic Development.

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Assets & Strategic Development presented the report and reminded Members of the Cabinet decision in 2012 to transfer 9 play areas to Dereham Town Council along with a commuted sum of £121,700 for on-going maintenance. 

 

The Town Council had not been aware of the monetary constraint on this particular site (see report) and had asked for a further £20,000 which would cover 20 years worth of rental payments to the Diocese, the landowner.

 

It was noted that the additional monies would be released from the revenue reserves (see Proforma B attached to the report).

 

The Opposition Leader asked if this settlement compared with Thetford Town Council.  Members were informed that it did on a pro-rata basis.

 

The land in question was currently leased and the Executive Support Member for Assets & Strategic Development asked if the lease would be transferred to the Town Council.  In response, Members were informed that the lease would be transferred to Dereham Town Council who would then be responsible for the rental payments to the Diocese.

 

The Executive Member for Corporate Services and Quality Assurance felt that it was only right and proper that the Town Councils were responsible for the play areas.

 

The Opposition Leader asked if there would be a clause written into the agreement to retain a play area in this area.  The Executive Member for Assets & Strategic Development said that he would have to check and report back.

 

Option 1

 

Authorise the release of an additional £20,000 to Dereham Town Council which would cover approximately the rental payments due under the lease for the next 20 years and continue with the leasehold assignment.

 

Option 2

 

Do not release the additional £20,000 to Dereham Town Council and cease the leasehold transfer and retain the leasehold ‘as is’.  This would mean the Council would retain this play area and continue the leasehold and its liabilities.

 

Option 3

 

Do not release the additional £20,000 to Dereham Town Council and cease the leasehold transfer and terminate the leasehold interest.  This would avoid any further financial liability, but would also mean that the landlord could cease to provide a play area at this site with no tenant in place to manage it.

 

Reasons

 

Whilst recognising that there were constraints on the Council’s finances, if the Council was to retain the leasehold it would continue to be responsible for the yearly rental payment which over the 20 year period would equate to that sum currently being requested by the Town Council.  If authorisation was given to transfer the leasehold (subject to the Diocese’s consent) the liability on the Council would cease to be with the Council retaining responsibility for none of the play areas.

 

To do nothing would result in the Council continuing to be responsible for one play area which might not be cost effective in maintenance terms and would result in the Council incurring the ongoing annual payment for the lease, and the land would still show as a liability on the Councils Asset register.  The Council would still be a provider of equipped play areas.

 

If Members decided that they did not wish to authorise the release of any additional monies to the Town Council there was the option to terminate the lease.  Under the terms of the lease the Council would need to give six months notice in writing and would be responsible for removing the play equipment from the land.  The Town Council could then enter into separate negotiations with the Diocese should it wish to take on a leasehold or freehold.  This was not recommended due to the potential community impact this could cause. 

 

RESOLVED that the leasehold of School Lane play area in Toftwood be transferred to Dereham Town Council together with an additional sum of £20,000 to cover the rental payments due under the lease for the next 20 years and continue with the leasehold assignment.

Supporting documents: