Consideration was given to the
report of the South Holland Centre (SHC) Task Group which presented
the Task Group’s final report for consideration.
The Chairman of the Task Group,
Councillor B Alcock introduced the
report and noted a small error on page 23 of the report which
stated that there was 5 members of the Task Group – there had
been 6 members with one co-optee. He
advised that the Task Group had been set up after the Centre had
been closed for a long time due to the Covid pandemic, had no manager in post and an
audience that was nervous to return to the venue following
Covid. At the present time, the Centre
was back in business. Councillor Alcock
apologised for the delay in bringing the Task Group’s report
to Cabinet and stated that this had been due to the sudden loss of
the food and drink provision within the Centre in April.
Councillor Alcock advised that the Task Group had felt the
facility had a wider role to play in the wellbeing of the district.
He stressed the importance of the cultural role the Centre played,
which gave a challenge in terms of how to improve the reach of the
He added that there had been
encouraging signs that new ideas were available across the
partnership and the feedback received from external professionals
The facility may not be able to
avoid some public financial support, but the aim should be to
continue to minimise the subsidy required.
Councillor Alcock advised that the five main recommendations
of the Task Group would help to move the Centre forward and the
sub-recommendations clarified in more detail as to how those main
recommendations could be implemented.
He thanked all of the Task
Group members and officers who had provided information and support
to the group to assist with their work.
The following points were
raised by those present:
- Members thanked the
Task Group for their comprehensive report and for the time taken to
produce the report.
- The Portfolio Holder
for Communities and Facilities highlighted the following
- Some of the
conclusions made within the report had already been addressed and
work had been ongoing at the Centre since it’s
- The staffing
restructure agreed at Council in July 2021 was needed as the
previous model was unsustainable - a new Manager had been appointed
in December 2021, and the new structure and the team was working
well in a challenging environment.
- There had been a
phased re-opening of the Centre in an uncertain Covid recovery period and the Manager was
investigating commercial opportunities in light of rising utility
costs and the increased cost of living for residents, which could
impact on their ability to visit the Centre.
- Function Hall hire
had increased in recent weeks, and it was pleasing that audience
numbers for films and shows were also starting to
- Plans for the Centre
were flexible and box office opening hours had been extended to
include Tuesday and Saturday mornings following public
- The South Holland
Centre was an asset for the district, and it needed to encourage a
new audience to come into the building.
- The Centre was on
target, delivering, and in a far better place financially than it
could have been following Covid.
- Numerous sections of
the local economy were starting to reopen and rebuild within the
town centre including the South Holland Centre
- It was pleasing that
there would be a partnership approach going forward.
- It was noted that the
financial information was interesting as the cost to taxpayers had
reduced significantly over the years. There were many venues across
the country that had been forced to close and it was a credit to
the team at the South Holland Centre for keeping the venue
- Concern was raised
that whilst Arts Council funding was good it was very prescriptive
in the requirements of shows to be held and those particular shows
often did not pull in large audiences.
- Members had received
some questions from members of the public regarding requests for
tourist information– what was the plan for tourist
information at the South Holland Centre going forward?
- Officers responded
that there had been some issues with the direct phone lines to the
Centre – this had now been rectified and there was an answer
machine facility available if the Centre was not open. There were
plans in place for more literature to be available on site and on
the website. It was confirmed that there were few tourist
information requests coming through and it was noted that the South
Holland Centre was not a fully staffed Tourist Information
- The Chairman of the
Task Group noted that the recommendations were part and parcel of
bringing the South Holland Centre into the forefront and
acknowledged that currently the Centre was a work in progress.
Previously, governance had not been strong enough and the
Performance Monitoring Panel should have scrutinised this earlier
than it had. It was obvious that the promotion of the Centre needed
to be better, and it was common agreement amongst Task Group
members that suggestions were the direction in which the Centre
needed to go in.
- Tourism had been
raised as an area for improvement at the Spalding Town Centre
Steering Group and it was hoped that tourism in South Holland would
improve with help from officers within the partnership with tourism
- The building had been
looked after while it was closed and a maintenance plan for the
Centre was being worked through at the present time. The spend on
the building had been decreasing year on year which was good for
the taxpayer. The Task Group had highlighted work that would be
undertaken but not everything could be done at once due to
difficulties appointing contractors to carry out the
- It was recommended
that the Portfolio Holder for Communities and Facilities lead a
Cabinet Task Group, working with officers, to ensure a realistic
timetable was drawn up to implement the Task Group’s
recommendations that were outstanding.
- Covid had provided the building
with a new start, and the partnership approach would make available
entertainment and tourism experience and expertise, to assist with
the running of the Centre. There were serious concerns about the
marketing of the Centre, and this had to be addressed in order that
the Centre could become more commercially successful.
- Members asked for
reassurance that every enquiry from the public was logged so that
the authority was aware of what the Centre was not offering, and
questions could then be asked as to why that offer was not
- Officers responded
that every query was logged on a manual spreadsheet and that new
digital business intelligence methods were being used by the
That the recommendations (1 to 6) as set out in
section 7 of the of the Task Group’s Final Report are
approved for consideration by a Cabinet
That a Cabinet Task Group be set up and led by the
Portfolio Holder for Communities and Facilities to ensure a
realistic timetable was drawn up to implement all the Task
Group’s recommendations where
Wording in bold and italics are amendments made at the meeting
of Cabinet on 19 July 2022.
(Other options considered:
- Do nothing –
none of the task groups recommendations would be
Reasons for decision:
- To ensure that
Cabinet is fully briefed on the task group’s findings and
identifies the appropriate recommendations which should be taken
forward for further review.)