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«7 Report Education and Community Services Committee 29 April 2008 OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES SERVICE, CARLINGWARK LOCH, CASTLE DOUGLAS Reason for Report 1. ...»

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7

Report Education and Community Services Committee 29 April 2008

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES SERVICE, CARLINGWARK LOCH, CASTLE

DOUGLAS

Reason for Report

1.

The reason for this report is to update Members on the arrangements for taking

forward the Outdoor Activities Service based at the Carlingwark Outdoor Activities

Centre, Castle Douglas, and to seek Member approval to award the contract for the

redevelopment of the facility.

Recommendations 2.

Members are asked to:note the information in relation to the Outdoor Activities Service;

2.2 note the amended funding package as section 9.3 of this report;

2.3 agree to award the contract for the redevelopment of the Outdoor Activity Centre and Carlingwark Loch, Castle Douglas; and

2.4 agree to support a bid to the Finance Sub Committee on 22 May 2008 to provide top-up funding of f287,000 in 2008/09 and f156,000 in 2008/2010 to the Education and Community Services Maintenance Block from the Corporate Capital Proaramme.

Glossary of Terms 3.

SSSl - Site of Special Scientific Interest USF - United Skate Foundation ECS - Education and Community Services OEMG - Outdoor Education Management Group OAMG - Outdoor Activity Management Group Corporate Plan Links and Contribution 4.

The key themes of the Corporate Plan 2007 - 201 1 which was agreed by the 4.1 Full Council on 21 February 2008 are all relevant to the development and delivery of the Outdoor Activities service.

The effective development of Lochside Park and Carlingwark Loch, Castle 4.2 Douglas contributes greatly to the Council’s Corporate Plan key themes. This development also contributes to the Council’s Area Management framework, DecentralisationAction Plan and the Stewartry Management Team Work Plan.

Consultation 5.

The following have been consulted in the preparation of this report and are in agreement with the contents:Corporate Director for Corporate Services Area Manager - Stewartry Service Director School Services Report Education and Community Services Committee 29 April 2008 Group Business Manager Acting Director of Finance Operations Manager - Design Services Service Manager - Property (ESWCS) Background 6.

6.1 An Outdoor Education Best Value Review was undertaken in 2002 and a report submitted to the ECS Committee on 4 March 2003. Members agreed to establish an OEMG to take forward the development of this service. The remit for this group included the proposal to expand the service, to provide outdoor activities for wider community use, and in addition the group required to review the condition and suitability of the Outdoor Education facilities and buildings.

6.2 In particular the condition of the Outdoor Activity centre based at Carlingwarlk Loch, Castle Douglas, was the subject of much debate and it was agreed by Members that the facility required investment in order to ensure the successful residential operation could continue to operate.

6.3 The core function of the Outdoor Activity Service is to provide curriculum outdoor activities to schools within Dumfries and Galloway. These activities are delivered to both primary and secondary school pupils across the region and whilst the activities delivered are not of a statutory nature it is considered that the service positively contributes to the quantity and breadth of the schools curriculum in Dumfries and Galloway.

6.4 Specifically the Outdoor Activities team are responsible for key elements of secondary school certificated courses and providing quality Outdoor Activities within the core PE programme for both primary and secondary schools. This includes residential opportunities.

6.5 Members of the Stewartry Area Committee at their meeting on 18 April 2005 noted the establishment of a Stakeholder Group for Lochside Park and Carlingwark Loch and agreed to receive a report on future arrangements for the provision of the Outdoor Activities service from this location. This report was presented to the Stewartry Area Committee on 8 September 2005.

6.6 With effect from 1 April 2005 the Management of Outdoor Education transferred from the Schools Services to Leisure and Sport and was re-designated as the ‘Outdoor Activities Service’. The move built on the expertise developed in schools service issues within the Leisure and Sport Management Team since council restructuring. This was illustrated by the successful launch of the Active Schools initiative, which is managed by Leisure and Sport.

6.7 At the ECS Committee on 25 April 2006 Members approved the Leisure and Sport Strategy for Dumfries and Galloway 2006 - 2010. In doing so Members approved the aims and objectives of the Outdoor Activities service as follows:To maintain and improve the existing curriculum Outdoor Activity service based in schools by developing an Outdoor Activities programme based in the community;

To develop and improve the Outdoor Activities service based in the

–  –  –

To develop and deliver a wide range of Outdoor Activity opportunities to target groups across the region;

To review existing Outdoor Activity facilities and develop a clear way forward for Outdoor Activities, including residential centres.

6.8 The development of Outdoor Activities within the Leisure and Sport team has allowed the community based Outdoor Activities to be used as a vehicle for encouraging those who have traditionally not participated to become involved in physical activity. The move has also allowed Outdoor Activities to be used as a means of improving the health of local communities and addressing anti social behaviour, by providing youth diversion activities.





6.9 A review of staffing within the Outdoor Activities Team was undertaken by the Operations Manager - Leisure and Sport. This resulted in staff employed on teachers terms and conditions of service being phased back into schools and replaced with Outdoor Activities staff on SJC terms and conditions of service. In addition, with effect from 1 April 2008 the Outdoor Activities Manager retired and the service is now managed and delivered on a more decentralised, efficient and effective basis by the Leisure and Sport Management Team. This has allowed the development of an Operational Plan which links with other Leisure and Sport initiatives and also takes account of opportunities available within the area, including partnership working with bodies such as the Forestry Commission and VisitScotland Dumfries and Galloway.

6.10 Although it is a small part of the existing Outdoor Activities service, the development of community based Outdoor Activities together with the opportunity to develop and implement a more efficient and effective staffing structure has resulted in budget savings as detailed at section 7 of this report.

6.11 The Operations Manager - Leisure and Sport continues to work closely with the Schools Service Development Officer - PE to ensure there is no diminution in service to schools and that the new service is better placed to provide additional curricular and extra curricular opportunities for schools.

6.12 Area based OAMGs are now being established. The role of these groups is to ensure that a coordinated and coherent approach is taken to developing Outdoor Activities and ensures all partner agencies who have a role in delivering Outdoor Activities have the opportunity to work together to deliver better outcomes. The OAMGs include representation from public, private and voluntary sector Outdoor Activity providers in each geographical area.

6.13 The OAMG within the Stewartry is the furthest advanced to date and is proving to be highly successful for public, voluntary and private sector operators in increasing participation in Outdoor Activities for all providers within the area.

7. Finance

7.1 The Leisure and Sport service receive an annual budget from Education to deliver curriculum Outdoor Activities. The table below details the historical budget allocated to Outdoor Activities and the revised area based revenue budgets following the introduction of the community Outdoor Activities Programme and the restructuring of the service delivery model.

–  –  –

The budget figures as detailed above include all associated staffing, property 7.2 and transportation costs for the service including the Outdoor Activity facilities at Stronord and Carlingwark.

8. Recent Developments The situation at Carlingwark Loch Outdoor Activities Centre has been the 8.1 focus of much debate involving key stakeholders, officers and Elected Members.

Carlingwark Outdoor Activities Centre, including Isle House, provides a second residential centre, in addition to Stronord Outdoor Centre in the west of the region.

The Carlingwark Centre is an extremely busy residential facility and allows a large number of schools and community groups to provide opportunities for young people to partake in Outdoor Activities including water based activities.

During a typical school year the Outdoor Activities Centre at Carlingwark 8.2 accommodates pupils from over 30 schools from across the region ranging from Primary 5 through to Secondary 6. The pupils benefit from a range of activities including biking, canoeing, climbing, hill walking, kayaking, abseiling, sailing, windsurfing and environmental field work. In addition the facility has hosted a range of Outdoor Activities Coach Education Courses and has provided residential activities for voluntary youth groups such as Annan Brownies and Stranraer Boys Brigade.

Over the past two financial years a total of 1 1 1 residential group bookings 8.3 have been taken at both Carlingwark and Stronord Outdoor Activity Centres. 103 of these residential bookings have been from schools and community groups from within Dumfries and Galloway with only 8 bookings taken from groups travelling from outwith the region.

On an annual basis over 10,000young people and 2000 adults benefit from 8.4 the activities and services provided by the Outdoor Activities Team.

8.5 At the ECS Committee on 25 October 2005 Members agreed that there was clear evidence of need for Outdoor Activities to continue to be provided from Carlingwark. The site at Carlingwark is considered ideal to develop as an Outdoor Activities Centre of Excellence. Geographically it is an excellent site with potential for the development of a quality residential facility, together with the ability to utilise the loch itself for water based activities. The location of the facility also allows for the development of community based activities and programmes and with the close proximity of the Lochside Caravan and Camping site provides an opportunity to maximise the two services by jointly marketing and promoting these services to community groups. It was agreed by Members that this in turn will have a significant positive economic impact on the area of Castle Douglas.

The condition of the existing facilities at Carlingwark meant that without 8.6 investment the Outdoor Activities Service could only continue to operate from this Report Education and Community Services Committee 29 April 2008 site on a short term basis. Members agreed that the result of this facility ceasing to operate would be a significant reduction in the number of school groups presently benefiting from these activities together with a much reduced ability to develop community based Outdoor Activities.

8.7 Members also agreed that there was a strong business case to invest in the facilities at Carlingwalk not only to sustain residential curriculum activities from the site but also to develop community based residential opportunities and in doing so use the development as a catalyst for a much wider management plan for the development of the whole site of Lochside Park.

8.8 As a result of significant Health and Safety and operational concerns the Outdoor Activities services delivered from the site were significantly reduced with effect from June 2006. This has created operational difficulties and unmanageable demands on the one remaining outdoor residential centre at Stronord which has resulted in a number of schools and community groups being unable to access residential and non residential outdoor activities from this date. This will continue to be the case until a new residential facility is made available at Carlingwark.

8.9 In the light of the overall objective to develop Lochside Park, Officers consulted the USF regarding their aspirations to build a skatepark facility within the Castle Douglas area. Representatives from USF confirmed Lochside Park as their preferred venue for this facility. Members agreed that there were clear benefits in taking forward the two proposals as one project and as a result Officers requested costed designs from the Council’s Architectural Services team based on a brief which detailed replacing the existing Outdoor Activities portacabins with a new portacabin arrangement which would be built around Isle House in order to improve operational arrangements, demolishing the old Outdoor Education portacabins and siting the skatepark facility on the site of the old portacabins.

8.10 It was agreed at the Finance Sub Committee on 29 June 2006 that a financial allocation of f486k be made available to the replacement Carlingwark Outdoor Activity Centre. This figure was based on information provided by the Council’s Design Services team. As a result of the Finance Sub Committee decision a Design Brief was produced in July 2006 which detailed the key operational requirements of this development as follows:

<

Refurbishment of the existing Isle House @

Adequate meeting room / office accommodation Male and female toilet / changing / shower facilities Disabled facilities Customer sleeping accommodation Staff sleeping accommodation Appropriate space for storage of equipment Adequate laundry / drying facilities Adequate size of workshop with external entrance External water supply The internal / external finish is ‘functional and practical’ Secure fences compound for vehicle and large items of equipment Car parking and access e

–  –  –

8.11 Preliminary sketch proposals were produced by Design Services in October

2006. Throughout 2007 Design Services produced further versions of the original design and commissioned a range of environmental impact surveys.



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