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1st Dec, 2021

Council will not be put at risk over Rubicon woes vows Leader

Ross Crawford 16th Jul, 2021 Updated: 22nd Jul, 2021

“I WILL not let Rubicon Leisure pull down the council.”

That’s the vow of Council Leader Matt Dormer following a report that Rubicon’s total cost to the council next year could hit £1.9million – in council tax terms the equivalent of £73.32 on every Band D property in Redditch.

Councillor Dormer acknowledged the pandemic had hit Rubicon Leisure badly and said plans had been put in place to hopefully turn its finances around, including a round of cuts and ‘belt tightening’.

“Rubicon is more in the red than anyone anticipated, but it’s a common theme across the country – no leisure company has come out of this smelling of roses,” he said.

“I have every faith in Simon Ingyon, the managing director of Rubicon Leisure, and his team, to get Rubicon safely through this.

“We have a plan, and there’s going to be some changes – we are going to have to cut our cloth accordingly.

“Then we have a three year plan and I am happy with that, however I will not let Rubicon bring the council down.

“People have put their trust in us as a council and me to make the right decisions for this town.

The council itself is not in the best of financial health.

Freshly out of a Section 24 notice – where auditors feared it was in danger of running out of cash – its current financial position is described as ‘fragile’.

Savings have still to be delivered, there’s uncertainty over future funding from central government and reserves are only just above minimum level.

With a management charge of £660,000 to pay, Rubicon’s board estimates a shortfall of more than £1.2m due to the impact of Covid.

Pressed to find savings within the next 12 months the company has identified £615,483 and will be reviewing its operations to deliver further savings as well as looking at its community centres and Forge Mill Needle Museum.

It also intends to explore capital investment projects to increase income.

Despite its problems Coun Dormer said it had still been the right thing to run Rubicon as a council ‘arm’s length’ organisation rather than putting it out to a trust to run independently.

“It was the right thing to do 100 per cent. If we had gone down the trust route I guarantee it would have been back on the council’s doorstep,” he said.

“As it is we will look at all the options regarding Rubicon Leisure.”

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