UPDATED: Council criticised over decision to close Bucks Sports and Social Club

Cllr John Chilver addresses a county council committee about his decision to close the Bucks Sports and Social Club
Cllr John Chilver addresses a county council committee about his decision to close the Bucks Sports and Social Club

Bucks County Council as been criticised for its controversial decision to close Bucks Sports and Social Club in the New Year.

At a meeting of the finance, performance and resources select committee on Monday December 18, John Chilver, the cabinet member for resources said he stood by his original decision from October to close the sports club in Lower Road, Aylesbury.

He said he took the decision because any of the alternative bids to take it over represented ‘a big financial risk to the county council.’

He added: “The financial circumstances of the club are uncertain and regarding the future use of the site, there would be no detrimental impact on groups such as Booker Park School who already use it.

“This was a very difficult decision for me.”

One of the bids to take over the social club came from Aylesbury United FC.

Ducks chairman Graham Read was very critical of the decision describing it as ‘rubbish.’

He said: “We are losing sporting facilities left, right and centre in Aylesbury.

“The council are paying more to run the facilities than they would if we they had rented or leased it to us.

“It would be an ideal facility for Aylesbury United’s youth, disabled and ladies sections.”

The council’s director of finance and assets Richard Ambrose said: “The community bid was good but there were question marks about their projections of income levels, membership numbers and the donations which they would receive.

“These were based on speculation rather than evidence.”

Mr Read said: “Although our bid may not have had all the financial information required, we gave a clear indication of what we would do if we took over the site.”

Some councillors on the committee expressed concerns about the transparency of the consultation process.

Martin Farrow said: “Cllr Steven Lambert told me he did not receive an e-mail asking for a response on this issue - I feel the consultation process is flawed.

“I am disappointed with the lack of transparency as to why the decision was reached and I think residents will feel let down.”

Cllr Anita Cranmer said to Cllr Chilver that he should be more open on how he reached the decision.

She said: “You said you made that decision because it would be too great a financial risk for the council.

“I am just wondering if this could be made more transparent.

“I think when this hits the press and people just see a statement from the council saying ‘it presented too much of a financial risk to the council’ it might not mean that much to the ordinary man in the street.”

An exact date for the closure was not agreed at the meeting, but the closure will be before January 15.

It is understood that all bookings agreed before this decision was taken, including a planned New Year’s Eve function, will be honoured.