Clubs will all be charged on a level playing field from now on

Sports and activity clubs who rent district council facilities will all be charged on a level playing field from now on and will have the opportunity to apply for a grant to help them in the future.

Currently, East Devon District Council leases premises to some 37 sports and activity organisations. However, these rent charges can vary significantly from club to club due to historical arrangements.  Some clubs have benefited from reduced rents while there are others that have not received this financial support.

The council’s Cabinet, as recommended by the Asset Management Forum, decided in June 2015 that any financial support for clubs must be more transparent and reflect a clearly determined subsidy level. A further information report on the issue is going before Cabinet on May 11.

The council’s new approach is to introduce a rent support grant arrangement which will make the allocation of funding support more consistent and fair. From their next rent renewal date, all clubs will be liable to pay market rent for their facility by the council. To determine the rent, each site will have a valuation, taking into account such factors as the size of the facility, the terms of the lease and the variety of uses of the site.

At the same time, clubs can apply to the district council for a rent support grant and their application will be assessed objectively against a range of criteria. These assessments will include looking at the benefits the club brings or could bring to the local community, whether they have a good and realistic financial plan and how much the club needs a grant.

Councillor Ian Thomas, East Devon District Council’s Portfolio holder for Finance and the grant applications panel chairman, said:

The new grants scheme is all about having a fair accountable system to help those who merit financial support. It’s about making sure that our limited funds reach the right groups and organisations.

The council will organise a workshop for relevant tenants to answer queries on the application process and take account of their comments.

All sports and activity clubs that lease or hire facilities from East Devon District Council have been sent a letter to let them know about the report going to Cabinet and give them some information on the changes. They will receive more detailed information in due course.