SANDFORD PARKS LIDO LEASE RENEWAL UPDATE:

by Fabia Garau

SANDFORD PARKS LIDO LEASE RENEWAL UPDATE:

Further to our last update back in November 2018, a copy of which can be found here, the charity which operates Sandford Parks Lido has, for some time, been trying to negotiate an extension to the current lease arrangements with Cheltenham Borough Council (CBC). These negotiations being ahead of the expiry date of the existing lease on 31 March 2021. One of the reasons for this early negotiation has been to enable the charity to access grant funding for improvements to changing rooms and other associated facilities.

We are now able to announce that earlier this month we received the first substantive feedback to our proposals for a new lease from CBC, details of which we would like to share with you, our stakeholders:

Firstly, we are encouraged as the council has indicated it would issue us with a new lease for a further term of 35 years.

Secondly, although we have not yet seen the final financial valuation mentioned in the previous information release, it is clear that the CBC are now expecting a substantial annual rent from the charity as well as a share of our income from season tickets sales and the car park income. It has been suggested to us that we can increase parking charges in order to maximise our income. Importantly, the charity has always been sensitive to the price of our car park and the entry fees for our customers and we do not believe there is sufficient scope to significantly increase the overall price to you, our customers.

You may recall that back in 1996 the council was unable to continue to operate the lido and it was in grave danger of being closed. At that time the lido community rallied together and successfully fought to keep it open. With the welcome backing of the council, our charitable trust was formed to take over the full operation and upkeep of the lido. Following many years of earlier underinvestment, the lido was taken over in a poor state but with careful management, substantial investment and a huge amount of passion, our charity successfully became self-funding within three years. We have since that time operated as a pioneering true ‘not for profit’ charity, governed by trustees who freely give both their time and energies to the charity and run, on a day to day basis, by a number of paid employees.

The trustees of the charity have historically operated the business in a prudent manner, balancing the high demand of funds for maintenance and capital expenditure within a business that has a revenue model that is highly dependent on the weather during our British summer. The Trust has invested many millions of pounds in maintaining the infrastructure over the last 23 years, with funding coming from our own retained reserves and successful grant applications supported by those reserves. This business model has resulted in the charity being able to bring the Lido back to the wonderful amenity you see today at no cost to the council or residents of the town.

The trustees believe that the current CBC proposals are unsustainable for the long-term viability of the Lido. Indeed the charity believes that the CBC proposals would take the Lido back to a position when it was devoid of the financial reserves it needs to survive through bad weather seasons while continuing to carry out the on-going maintenance and refurbishments required of such a facility – precisely where it was in 1996 when the charity took over the facility. It is these reserves that have enabled the Trust to secure grants.

In their document ‘’Cheltenham. Place Vision’’ CBC provide a clear and defined aim for Cheltenham to thrive and prosper. The document states a number of strategic objectives required to achieve this. In reviewing their document the trustees believe that the lido strongly contributes to these, fully aligning ourselves with the CBC strategy in so many areas.

You can access the CBC document here

The charity clearly wants to continue to build a sustainable future for the lido by investing in our historic amenity, attracting visitors, championing physical and mental well-being, engaging people of all ages and continually reaching out to our community. Importantly, the trustees want the lido charity to continue to be a fully self-funding, independent and successful organisation.

What can you do to help?

The Trustees are keen that you should let us, and importantly your local councillors know if you support the position the Trust are taking on this important issue and in doing so ensure that we can accurately represent your interests and those of the wider community as users of the lido.

Find contact details of your local Councillors here

Finally to help you, the Trust have provided a dedicated email address through which you can contact us – that email address is:

lease@sandfordparkslido.org.uk

We look forward to hearing from you and commit to keeping you updated and informed of progress.

Thank you,

From the Trustees of Sandford Parks Lido