The Service Lead – Place, Assets and Commercialisation ran through the update report circulated to the Forum in advance of the meeting, which summarised the capital bids that were proposed for consideration by the Budget Setting and Capital Bid Allocation Panel, the Panel’s recommendations and the rationale for its recommendations.
The Forum noted:
· The capital bids approved and recommended to Council.
· That the proposal for the light refurbishment of changing rooms at Sidmouth swimming pool had already been recommended for funding from the approved National Leisure Recovery Fund by Cabinet; LED had now commenced these works.
Members of the Forum were asked to consider a proposal for the installation of pool energy management systems at the Exmouth and Honiton swimming pool sites, at an expected cost of £62,500. The Service Lead – Place, Assets & Commercialisation invited the Principal Building Surveyor to set out the technical details of what the proposal relates to.
The Principal Building Surveyor outlined the following points:
· The proposal is for an energy management system which deals with the filtration and circulation of the swimming pools, optimising how these systems work.
· It is estimated that the new system will generate energy savings in the region of £16k annually, and as energy costs rise the savings will be even greater.
The LED CEO provided the following rationale:
· The current system in place is inefficient and controlled manually.
· The proposal is for an automated system which would significantly reduce the amount of water used, generating savings in water costs.
· In using less water, less gas would be needed to heat it, and less electricity to pump it, generating significant energy cost savings.
· There would be additional savings in maintenance costs since pumps would be used less and scaled down more.
· Customers would see an improvement in water quality.
· The new system would reduce the carbon footprint and therefore align with the Council’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan and its priority for a greener East Devon.
· In view of the forecast savings, it is anticipated that the system would pay for itself within 2 - 2½ years.
Discussion and clarification included:
· In response to a Member’s question, the Strategic Lead – Finance clarified that if the proposal was approved, it would add not more than £2–3K to interest payments. He added that this sum would be immaterial in the overall capital programme and would not significantly affect the General Fund.
· The Strategic Lead – Finance reminded the Forum that if it recommends the proposal, it would be a recommendation through Cabinet to Council, as it would be asking for a budget in-year for the capital programme.
· The Strategic Lead – Finance highlighted that the forecast payback period of 2-2½ years is unusually short for a capital scheme.
· A Member queried why a review was only carried out for Honiton and Exmouth Swimming Pools and not for Sidmouth. The LED CEO responded that a lot of work had already been done to improve the pool flow system at Sidmouth Swimming Pool, so there was less to be gained from any upgrade, and there would be insufficient return on investment.
· In response to a Member’s question on where the money would come from to fund the works, the Strategic Lead – Finance stated that the project would go into the capital programme and added to the sum in-year. It would therefore be funded from capital money available, and some borrowing might be required in terms of the overall capital programme. He added that £62,500 is not a significant sum in the overall capital budget and would not impact on the General Fund position or the assumptions made.
· Following a request for more detail on the climate change impact of the proposed system, the Principal Building Surveyor stated that a saving of 23 CO2 tonnes was estimated for Honiton Swimming Pool, down from 37.7 to 14.2 tonnes, and a saving of 21 tonnes was estimated for Exmouth.
· Responding to a question about a wider programme of works reduce the carbon footprint from LED properties, the LED CEO stated that longer term improvements would be explored in respect to solar panels and air source heat pumps, once the Leisure Strategy is complete. The Principal Building Surveyor added that an approved element of one of the capital bids was to commission a study of energy efficiency in LED properties, and this would be progressed in due course.
The Portfolio Holder – Finance sought an Officer view on whether it was appropriate for him to vote on this item since he had chaired the Budget Setting and Capital Bid Allocation Panel meeting; a Democratic Services Officer commented that there was no reason why he should not vote as a Forum member if he wanted to do so. She added that the final decision on the capital bid proposal would rest with Cabinet, of which he was a member.
RECOMMENDED TO Cabinet and Council:
That the installation of pool water treatment energy management systems at the Exmouth and Honiton LED managed swimming pool sites be included in the capital programme, with a capital budget in 2022/23 of £62,500.
The Chair thanked those present for their contribution to the debate.