Woodmill Outdoor Activities Centre could be sold off or closed

By Natalia Forero, Local Democracy Reporter

Woodmill Activities Centre 20160308 085027 The latest Southampton City Council plans to save cash could see Woomill Activities Centre and Southampton Water Activities Centre in Chapel sold off or otherwise disposed of.



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Plans to deliver a transformation programme to address Southampton City Council’s financial challenges have been set out but fall short of the level of savings needed.

The plans – which included 28 plans to make savings in seven areas, including adult social care, waste collection and council housing – will see the council save £32.05m of its £42.65m target for 2025/26.

In February, Southampton City Council received exceptional financial support from the government, which enabled the council to avoid bankruptcy.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities agreed the council could use £121.6m of capital resources to cover everyday revenue costs.

The so-called capitalisation direction enables the council to sell off assets such as buildings to raise money for the cash-strapped council.

It also means the local authority was subject to an independent review and must provide a “detailed transformation and improvement plan”.

This transformation plan was a government requirement, and it had to be submitted in the following month with a deadline before submitting the final papers in August.

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The city council published the transformation plan on July 8 and it will focus on “adapt,” “grow,” and “thrive” over three years.

The programme aims to deliver nine key outcomes. Among them are balancing the budget for 2025/26 without the need for exceptional financial support, creating an investment portfolio, and agreeing to a 10-year medium-term financial strategy.

Each department has set out the level of savings that could be created.

The adult social care and health directorate is expected to generate £14.65m.

The savings for children’s services are expected to create £7.9m.

Meanwhile, schools and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have an overall savings expectation of £1.8m.

Under these savings, the council plans to open two children’s homes by March 2025 and establish four more care leaver properties for children aged 16 to 18.

To reduce SEND demand, the council also aims to provide more in-house placements and support schools on early intervention.

The residents’ services programme is also estimated to create an overall £11.3m.

Seven projects are included in this proposal, including the council no longer providing services at Woodmill Outdoor Activities Centre in Swaythling and Southampton Water Activities Centre in Chapel.

Council papers said that data suggests that most users of these two sites are not Southampton residents, and both sites are “heavily” subsidised – the latter costing the council £29.45 per visit.

While the move is subject to public consultation, the council said its current preference is to find an alternative provider to maintain services without cost to the council. If that can’t be found, it will then look at other options to dispose of the sites.

Cllr Lorna Fielker, leader of Southampton City Council, said: “We are committed to delivering better outcomes and value for money for all residents and businesses in the city, and we will not get where we need to be by simply cutting services.

“While we need to reduce how much we spend, we are looking at truly transformational changes which will make our services more efficient and accessible for those in need.

“We need to constantly adapt to the changing world around us so the city can continue to grow and thrive, and our transformation plans will help us do this. There will be tough decisions to make along the way, but we will engage with residents and businesses throughout the process to make sure all voices are heard.”

ldrs logo 200px This article is from the Local Democracy Reporting Service or Shared Data Unit. Some alterations and additions may have been made by our site, which is a partner in the BBC's Local News Partnerships scheme. LDRS journalists are funded by the BBC to cover local authorities and other public service organisations, and content is shared with all partners.

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