There have been considerable rumours spreading on social media around the College’s involvement in the announcement by Rutland County Council to end general access to sports facilities on the Catmose Campus. Unfortunately, much of what is being said is untrue and does not reflect the College’s long-term commitment to community sport.
The College has worked with Rutland County Council for many decades to provide community sport. Wewere in agreement that when the new sports facilities were built just over a decade ago that a sports contractor could offer a broader offer than the College and that the council was best placed to procure a suitable contractor and manage the contract. We worked closely with the council to agree them a lease so that they are in control of the facilities anda joint-use-agreement that gives the College access. This allowed the council, to appoint Stevenage Leisure (SLL) as the contractor. The College, therefore,has no contractual involvement in who the council appoints.We have, however, as the landlord,continued to work closely with the council and SLL through a sports board to ensure the sports facilities are looked after and used appropriately for everyone’s benefit.
We have enjoyed amicable relationships with both Rutland County Council and SLL over the decade of the contract and we were hopeful that the council would appoint either another contractor, or to continue with SLL. When this didn’t prove to be possible, the College offered to explore continued community use and this remains the case; we would not want to lose community club access to our local sports facilities if it could be avoided. However, we are not a sports contractor, have limited expertise in that area and cannot spend public money given to the College to educate students to provide community sport. With the loss of the swimming pool, increased utility costs, the difficulty in staff recruitment, alongside the additional costs we incur as a public sector employer, it is not straightforward for the College to manage community sport.The College, however, is wanting to explore this with the council if it means we sustain community club access to our sports facilities.
As many of you will be aware, the College is growing and this is due to the council asking us to as there are not enough secondary school places to meet local demand. We have already invested in the region of £200,000 to refurbish the ‘old’ sports hall which would meet the sporting needs for all our students. We are also engaged in a larger capital build of around £5 million to provide additional IT, technology and science classrooms. The College did not therefore anticipate that community sport at our campus would end, have never requested that it should and indeed havesupported the council’s endeavours to ensure that it would not.
I hope this clarifies the College’s position and our willingness to continue to work with the council so that community club sport can continue. I am unable to comment further given that our discussion with the council is at an early stage. I will, however, update you again once a firm position has been reached.