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Education committee agrees new lease and management agreement for community centres

22/11/12

Members of Aberdeen City Council's Education, Culture and Sport Committee today [Thursday 22 November] heard an update on the current position in relation to moving community centres to the 'leased' type model.

The committee heard that since they had last met in September [2012] four Management Committees have signed up to the 'leased' type model. These are Mastrick Community Centre, Northfield Community Centre, Seaton Community Centre and Tillydrone Community Centre.

The report also provided an update on the six community centres which have leases that are operating on the basis of tacit relocation and are due to come to an end on Wednesday 28 November 2012. Tacit relocation is a principle in Scots law in which leases of land or buildings are renewed on the same conditions and previously existed if no notice of termination is given within the requisite period. The six community centres are Balnagask, Balgownie, Catherine Street, Froghall, Inchgarth and Sheddocksley.

Deputations were heard from those representing the six management committees and from representatives of groups that utilise the facilities of the six community centres still to sign up to the lease agreement.

Following a lengthy debate in which amendments were put forward by Councillor Jennifer Stewart and Councillor Gordon Townson, Convener Councillor Jenny Laing's motion was agreed 14 votes to nine.

The Convener's motion which was approved by the committee:
a. Notes the progress of the following centres, where the leases are continuing on the basis of tacit relocation, onto the new lease and management agreement arrangements: Balnagask, Balgownie, Catherine Street, Froghall, Inchgarth, Sheddocksley.

b. In respect of these centres, where the Management Committee has been unable or unwilling to sign up to the new lease and management agreement prior to 28 November 2012, for each of these community centres, to:

i. Instruct officers to provide a temporary licence for the Management
Committee, within the same terms and conditions of the new lease and
management agreement, through to 31 January 2013 (with the exception of
constitutional requirements; the association may still be in the process of
amending their constitution to one that meets the requirements of the lease
and management agreement), subject to clause 5.2.9 in this report.

c. Notes the progress in relation to moving the remaining community centres onto the new lease and management agreement.

d. Instructs officers to introduce a scheme (including setting criteria) whereby associations will be invited to apply to the council around about Nov/Dec for financial assistance/contribution towards any outstanding or identified external repairs for which they are liable, but are struggling to afford.

e. Approves the transfer of the funds from the former Ruthrieston Management Committee to the current Ruthrieston Management Committee.

f. To instruct officers to offer Management Committees who do not wish to sign up to the Lease and Management Agreement, an alternative option whereby the affected community centre would still require to sign a licence to occupy prior to the 28 November 2012, but once the lease expires on 31 January 2013, would be operated in the same way as a community centre attached to a school: ie it would be run and managed by the council, with the Management Committee inputting into the development of a programme at that site. In this situation, the Management Committee would no longer be entitled to a Development Grant (from 1 Feb 2013 onwards) but would still be eligible to receive 625 per year for the purpose of purchasing insurance. It is understood that the transition to such a model may require a reduction in programme at the affected site.

Aberdeen City Council's Education, Culture and Sport Committee Convener Jenny Laing said: "I have the highest respect for the dedication of everyone involved at all community centres. I firmly believe that the arrangements that we have put forward are the best which could possibly be offered and I would strongly urge the remaining community centres to sign the lease and management agreement or opt to operate like a community centre attached to a school."

Vice-convener Councillor Ross Thomson said: "The new lease and management agreement is fundamentally important to ensuring proper governance and protection, and will ensure safeguards are in place which will protect volunteers and users of community centres. Volunteers do a fantastic job and their efforts were applauded by all at the committee. Today's decision will make our community stronger with all these protections in place."