IN reply to the letters from councillors Vivienne Knaggs and Luke Ives: Norton Bowling Club is more than just a bowling club. It serves Norton as a community centre, and is used for weddings, dances, meetings and many other activities.
Needless to say, the value of the centre to the community cannot be quantified in purely financial terms, but if finance is what Councillors Knaggs and Ives are concerned about, the truth is this: The total amount of money ever spent by Ryedale on the bowling centre (including land acquisition) is £50,840. Over the last 15 years, the council has received £400,000 rent.
That rent has been pure profit, as the bowling centre’s management is completely responsible for internal and external repairs, lighting, heating and maintenance.
Club membership has decreased over the last 10 years, and the £40,000 annual rent has had to be reduced to £10,000.
On this basis, council officers negotiated an arrangement whereby three-quarters of the building could be taken over by the council and let to another operator.
The council’s ruling Conservative group would not accept this, and decided to sell the whole site and building instead.
This makes no financial sense, as members have been advised that the value of the site is about £400,000. A capital receipt of £400,000 if invested at, say two per cent, would yield £8,000 interest, which is, of course, less than the £10,000 rent which the club can afford to pay.
As regards a new swimming pool, Coun Ives hasn’t got a clue. The pool at Huntington cost £6 million to build more than 15 years ago.
The dry sports centre at Malton School cost £1.5 million. So £400,000 isn’t going to come anywhere near the cost of building even a small swimming pool.
In 1997 Ryedale did have a real opportunity of replacing Derwent Pool, and building a new facility which would have included a dry sports centre as well. There was a real prospect of the award of an 80 per cent Sport England grant.
However, to obtain this grant it was necessary to carry out a feasibility study at a cost of £30,000.
Coun Vivienne Knaggs vigorously opposed this because she thought it was a waste of public money, and the Conservative group made it an election issue, and stopped the feasibility study when it was almost finished.
This frugal political group which opposed the expense of £30,000, has just proved itself to be the biggest waster of all.
They’ve treated Ryedale as a business, speculated with public money as though it were their own, and lost up to £300,000 on a public inquiry at which the council’s evidence was described as “inexcusable”.
I speak of the car park fiasco.
COUN PAUL ANDREWS, Independent