Wisbech Town Council will manage the £850,000 community pavilion being built in Wisbech Park. But as part of the agreement the town council will sub-let the café.
Fenland District Council says it has “primarily funded” the project but with grants from Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and the Government’s Changing Places initiative.
Mayor Dr Nik Johnson says of the pavilion, due to handed over in December: “The Combined Authority is all about investing in people, their lives, and their community.
“Good recreation goes hand in hand with being healthy and happy, so this pavilion, in the green heart of Wisbech, will be a wonderful resource, not just for the town, but for all Fenland.”
The centre will provide a space for community meetings, workshops, or small-scale performances, space for a café and accessible toilets.
Portfolio holder Peter Murphy told Monday’s Cabinet, which agreed to a 35-year lease to the town council, that they were well placed to run it “and to strengthen what the town council can offer the community”.
Cabinet agreed a report from officers which said that “management by the town council is the best option as it will provide a locally focussed approach, ensuring community needs are catered for.
“Other options have not been considered, as local council management offers a community focus that another partner is unlikely to offer,” said the report.
Heads of terms for a 35-year lease have been agreed.
Fenland Council will remain responsible for the asset and repairs to major items such as the roof etc, with the town council taking care of day-to-day management and maintenance.
The report said that as community facility a lease at a peppercorn rate of £1 p.a. “is the usual approach. As this is below the market rate, Cabinet is required to confirm that this arrangement is acceptable”.
Cabinet heard that although the lease is below market rate, it is “typical of agreements for this type of community facility”.
The report added: “As a local asset, the town council is in the best position to ensure that this local asset performs for local people.
“This is particularly true, given the town council’s key summer festival that runs in the park, as well as other local members’ involvement in other community event run within the park”.
Cabinet heard that the intention for the pavilion has always been to install a more local management team and not Fenland Council.
Cabinet heard that whilst Wisbech Town Council has agreed to manage the facility on a peppercorn lease basis, FDC did have the option to engage more widely and see if a third-party, commercial business would be interested in the opportunity to manage the pavilion.
“Whilst it is considered that the local town council managing the facility would be in the best interest of the local community, that is not to say that a third party will not be involved,” the report added.
“Wisbech Town Council will manage the facility but intends to sub-contract the café operation to a third-party firm that is experienced in providing this service to the community.
“This mixed approach to the management of the pavilion should give the local community the best of both worlds in terms of a commercial café operation, with a community focussed town council running the building.”