Agenda item

Aberfan Community Centre

To consider report of the Chief Executive

Minutes:

Declaration of Interest

 

Councillor L Davies having Declared his Interest in this item left the Meeting for the consideration of this item.

 

The Leader of the Council Councillor G Thomas then made the following statement on the Aberfan and Merthyr Vale Community Centre:

 

‘Between 1988 and 30th March 2015 Aberfan and Merthyr Vale Community Centre was managed by Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council as trustees for the Aberfan Disaster Fund and Centre. The Centre has never been a Council asset and the Council has never ‘owned’ it.

 

Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust Ltd – now known as Wellbeing Merthyr – was created from the Council’s former Leisure Services Department.

 

The belief was that by creating a Charitable Trust the service would be better protected at a time of austerity, and have more opportunity to access grant funding, in turn providing a better service for the people of Merthyr Tydfil.

 

Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust Ltd. took over Leisure Services in Merthyr Tydfil on 1st April 2015.

 

Following Charity Commission approval in October 2015, Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust Ltd became the Trustees of The Aberfan Disaster Fund and Centre. The transfer of Trusteeship of the building occurred in April 2016. 

 

In December 2023 Full Council made the decision to end the agreement with the Trust, as the result of a number of concerns in relation to the delivery of the contract.

 

Over recent months the Council has been attempting to work with Wellbeing Merthyr on the managed termination of that contract, which includes the continuation of services at Aberfan and Merthyr Vale Community Centre.

 

Whilst we were initially working to a date of 31st March, this has extended to 30th April 2024.

 

The complication with Aberfan and Merthyr Vale Community Centre is that the building is vested in the current Trustees and does not automatically revert to the Council at the end of the current contact, therefore we face some additional legal hurdles in relation the Centre.

 

To take over services there we need to have permission from the Trustees.

 

Our aim and priority is to keep all leisure facilities open, including Aberfan and Merthyr Vale Community Centre, and we have reached out to Wellbeing Merthyr as the Trustees of the Centre to ensure the seamless continuation of service.

 

Any decision in relation to Aberfan centre rests solely with the current Trustees so my plea to them is to please work with us to ensure a seamless transition of service for the people of Merthyr Tydfil.’

 

Councillor G Thomas then led the Council through the ‘Aberfan Community Centre’ report and moved the recommendations detailed at Paragraphs 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 of the report.

 

This motion was then seconded by Councillor M Symmonds.

 

Questions were then raised by the Members on the report and were responded to in detail by the Monitoring Officer, Chief Finance Officer and Geraint Morgan Solicitor.

 

Councillor C T Jones then referred to the recommendation detailed at Paragraph 2.3 of the report and moved an amendment that a report be brought to the Council Meeting scheduled for 17 April 2024 giving an update to Members in relation to the due diligence exercise.

 

This amendment was seconded by Councillor B Carter.

 

The Monitoring Officer then gave advise on the proposed amendment.

 

Councillor G Thomas then advised that he was happy to accept the amendment in relation to the recommendation at Paragraph 2.3.

 

Further questions were then raised together with Members making comments on the report.

 

Resolved that:

 

(a)    The continuation of discussions with Wellbeing Merthyr to ensure that a Leisure and Library Service are provided from Aberfan after the termination of the Management Agreement be approved

(b)    The undertaking of a full due diligence exercise in relation to the acquisition of the Trusteeship of the Centre and surrounding land be approved

(c)    The presentation of a further report to Council at the Meeting scheduled for 17 April 2024 giving an update on the due diligence exercise and following receipt of Charity Commission advice be approved.

Supporting documents:

 

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