Council leader faces further questions over Riverside Centre

Cowes resident poses a series of questions to council leader David Pugh over issues surrounding the future of the Riverside Centre.

David Pugh

Readers will remember that at the last Cabinet meeting, Cowes resident Tanja Rebel posed a question to Cllr David Pugh over the Riverside Centre. After refuting claims made by Ms Rebel, the council leader asked her to put her question in writing. Last week Ms Rebel sent her letter with questions to Cllr Pugh and shares that now with readers below. Ed


Dear David

Further to the Cabinet Meeting of Tuesday 12th February 2013, and for asking me to put in writing the concerns I raised, as well as your commitment to provide an open and transparent response.

In order to help with this I have also appended a verbatim transcript of your interview with Tom Stroud on IW Radio on December 3rd 2012, with an audio copy still available on the Website.

My specific questions are:

1/ Given that you said ‘We have made clear as a Council aren’t going to get drawn into what any of those sub-lease arrangements are because that is a matter for them’ and ‘I have made clear that any issues of tenancy are between the current main tenant Riverside Centre Limited and any sub-tenants’

Qi/ Has the Local Authority made any threats of action against either the Riverside Centre or the Island’s MP in respect of his Office at the Centre?

Qii/ In the spirit of openness and transparency can the Document referred to in the County Press of 25th January 2013, that confirmed that Mr Beynon was ‘poised to take action’ be made available, together with any further relevant documents (I assume that all Councillors have received copies);

Qiii/ Given your concerns re sub-leases, can you publish details of the sub-lease that must exist between IW Council and Dave Burbage Limited, which enables them to use the offices of the IW Council and that Company’s use of other IWC Resources?

Qiv/ Can we have a full list of the existing users of the building that do not meet ‘that original stated purpose’?

2/ ‘It’s clear for example Newport Parish Council have their offices that doesn’t meet the terms of what the building was provided for’

Qi/ What is the Council policy re Parish/Town Councils using IW Council buildings (NB Many Town/Parish councils use IWC facilities, Ryde Town Council were based in Ryde Theatre/Town Hall, Ventnor in the Winter Gardens, and the list goes on)?

Qii/ I read that IWC were offering IW Association of Local Councils free use of County Hall, can you publish the policy on this?

3/ ‘The Riverside Centre should be a community hub which is multi-purpose for the disabled’

Qi/ How is not having the MP or Newport Parish Council, or the other organisations at the Centre, not providing a community hub. Can we have a straightforward definition of your vision of a community hub and where it differs from what happens now?

Qii/ Please can I have your definition of disabled. How is this definition written into criteria for bookings now and in the future?

Qiii/ How does ‘Help for Heroes’ not meet that definition or criteria? Could you list what ancilliary use is

Qiv/ Did the Local Authority stop the Riverside Centre hosting the Island’s Independent Living Centre? Isn’t that the sort of thing the Riverside should host?

4/ ‘requirement under the lease’

Qi/ Did the Local Authority receive £50,000 for an agreement that allowed variation of the lease to reflect its current use?

Qii/ Does that lease also state that the ‘rent would be reviewed should the grant funding be reduced so as to impact on the ability of the centre to meet the then current rent’ and has the Authority honoured this agreement?

Qiii/ Why doesn’t the Council just vary the lease to reflect the multi-purpose use of the Centre?

Thank you again for asking me to write down the specific concerns and I look forward to receiving a reply to the questions (yes or no will suffice), as well as a copy of the documents referred to.


IW Radio interview 3rd December 2013

Cllr David Pugh (DP and presenter Tom Stroud (TS)

TS: The Riverside Centre – What is going down there?

DP: The Riverside Centre was built at the end of the 80’s to be a principally multi-use purpose for the disabled and the council is currently in negotiations with the current trustees with the future of the building because we have done an audit of the building and it is clear there are a number of existing users of the building that don’t meet that original stated purpose and whilst we want to see it being a centre at the heart of the community we feel that there are other groups and organisations that provide services to disabled clients that should potentially be able to have the advantage of the facility. So there are some on-going negotiations I can’t go into a huge amount of further detail because the Council is looking at that with the building with the trustees but I’m confident that the outcome will see continuation of existing services and more.

TS: Can you give me an example of what is going on there that doesn’t meet what the Riverside Centre is there for as a community centre?

DP: I think Tom that in principle isn’t a bad thing because we had said very clearly that hiring it for other purposes for ancillary use so rather than the main purpose of the building can actually help those other activities taking place what I can’t go into because we are into negotiations with the trustees is talk about the details of the current use and how that may change we are happy to put that out once the process has concluded in the coming weeks. It’s clear for example, Newport Parish Council have there offices in there that does not meet the terms of what the building was provided for.

TS: But if I want to hire it out and have my record club their on the 3rd Thursday of each month and the venue is empty and I want to pay to use it, I should be allowed to do that shouldn’t I because I am putting money into it?

DP: Absolutely and we certainly believe longer term that kind of hiring is going to continue to compliment the use. What we’ve agreed with the Trustees at their request any bookings beyond a point early next year when the change may happen we don’t want to tie the hands of the future management by having lots of forward bookings that might preclude the use of some of that space for activities for disabled people. So that at the moment a number of bookings are on hold.

TS: Is this something that you are worried about because bookings are taken for things there should have been events going on for disabled. Has that actually happened?

DP: Not directly in the sense that room booking has taken place and the organisation has not been in there but the point of us in discussion with other groups and organisations is that there are other groups and organisations which provide services for disabled people who hire premises in Newport and elsewhere at commercial rents. Now from our point of view the opportunities for those organisations that provide a valuable service to such clients to use the facilities at the Riverside Centre on more favourable terms is going to make the services they offer to these people more affordable and more accessible. So I think the issue is yes no one has been held outside because because they can’t physically get in there but at the same time they have not been given the opportunity to hire that space because it has got a wider use and I think that I don’t think that anyone could reasonably disagree with our aspirations to see it restored more to its original purpose which is that multi-purpose centre use for the disabled.

TS: So just to be clear in your view what is the Riverside Centre for?

DP: The Riverside Centre should be a community hub which is multi-purpose for the disabled. I think it should have other ancillary use to complement that and also provide for integration amongst people from all sections of society but we must never dilute the principal use of it which is to support and be a very accessible venue for people with a range of disabilities.

TS: Is Andrew Turner ancillary use the Islands MP has his constituency office there presumably that’s an office that can be used by another group?

DP: Well it could potentially. What we have said to the Riverside Trustees is that any sub-leases or tenancies at wills that are currently in there are a matter for them to resolve and I understand that is what they are looking into. We as a council aren’t going to get into what any of the sub-lease arrangements are because that is a matter for them.

TS: Because the Riverside Centre isn’t run by the council?

DP: No its run by the Riverside Trustees but the requirement under the lease is that they do (TS: Because you own the building) the Council owns the building but the requirement under the lease which is currently being fulfilled to the extent it should be is that it’s a multi-use centre for the disabled and we want to see that re-stated.

TS: Are the council pushing Andrew Turner out?

DP: We certainly are not because I have made clear any issues of tenancy are a matter between the current main tenant Riverside Centre limited and any sub-tenants.

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Monday, 25th February, 2013 8:58am

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9 Comments

  1. Mason Watch's comment is rated +8 Vote +1 Vote -1

    25.Feb.2013 9:09am

    Who wants a wager that the Boy Pugh slithers out of this. Basically he’s on his way out come May so why bother………… Him and the others genuinely couldn’t organise a good drink in a brewery but now it’s obvious.

    Reply
  2. Man in Black's comment is rated +12 Vote +1 Vote -1

    25.Feb.2013 9:21am

    Some good questions, looking forward to seeing the reply.

    Reply
    • Island Monkey's comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

      25.Feb.2013 12:30pm

      There is no chance of the boy blunder responding to any of these well thought out questions.

      Despite the IOW council’s many well documented and extensive self made calamities, they make time to fight the Riverside Centre and remove the Mp. This says a lot about them doesn’t it?

      Reply
  3. wightywight's comment is rated +14 Vote +1 Vote -1

    25.Feb.2013 9:54am

    Can you imagine..even begin to contemplate, that a Conservative Council, with a Conservative Leader and a Conservative majority are actually so far adrift in relations with the (our) Conservative MP as to have arrived at this impasse?
    This is perhaps another example of the ineptitude of this administration (or Cllr Pugh, at least) that they do not appear able to have a working relationship with the MP…!
    Can you imagine what it might be like if the MP had a different Political persuasion…!
    Of course, as it’s been mooted before, this situation stems out of the Council wanting the Riverside back. That’s the bottom line and if they could do it *Politically* and get Public support they would.
    They want to move Fairlee Road (and the High Street) offices into the Riverside and then dispose of the valuable(?) sites just mentioned for re-development.
    It fits with their approach to selling the ‘Family Jewels’ to raise money and it fits by centralising the staffing from the other two buildings.
    This is very little to do with a Social Conscience or concern over the way the Riverside operates on the part of the Council…do NOT be fooled by the rhetoric.
    They want the property back to transfer staff into. Their dishonesty won’t of course, stretch to them confirming this..instead relying on nefarious tactics to ‘force’ the trustees and management to capitulate.
    Let us hope this man and his colleagues are gone in May….the irony of that will unfold shortly!

    WW

    Reply
    • Bystander's comment is rated +11 Vote +1 Vote -1

      25.Feb.2013 11:14am

      If only Pughy hadn’t of behaved like an pathetic bully boy show off when he verbally abused the MPs partner perhaps it would never have arrived at this impasse. There again had he of spoken to my partner in that fashion he would have got what he was so desperately asking for there and then. I blame the parents.

      Reply
  4. sam salt's comment is rated -1 Vote +1 Vote -1

    25.Feb.2013 11:36am

    @Bystander whilst I do not condone the Leader of the Council’s behaviour towards the MPs partner, which was totally unacceptable I find your comment about blaming his parents uncalled for.
    Personal remarks against the family of the Leader do not add anything to the subject and it is my understanding that they are extremely nice and hardworking people.

    Reply
    • Bystander's comment is rated +9 Vote +1 Vote -1

      25.Feb.2013 12:34pm

      I was referring to the misbehaviour of children in general and attributing that to the lack of parental guidance and discipline.

      Regardless something went seriously wrong with Pughy somewhere along the line, are you suggesting he would have been even worse if his parents weren’t extremely nice and hard working?

      Reply
  5. Billy Builder's comment is rated +16 Vote +1 Vote -1

    25.Feb.2013 1:35pm

    If I were suspicious of nature, I might think that the Council were trying to restrict the usage of the Riverside Centre such that next year when they review the profit/loss account they find that the Centre is no longer viable. This would of cause mean that as we, the IOW Council are so strapped for cash, we have no option but to sell the centre to the highest bidder. However, I don’t believe for one second that either David Pugh or Steve Beynon (or his replacement clone) would ever consider such underhand actions !

    Reply
  6. Don Smith's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

    25.Feb.2013 11:59pm

    This Mr Pugh has had his feet under the table for far too long – Time for change.

    Reply

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