Urgent Business Approved by the Chair (Part 1) - Pacific Road Arts Centre, Museum and Tramway - Outcome of Tender Exercise
Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
Further to Minute No. 357 (a) (i) above, an urgent report by the Director of Law, HR and Asset Management explained the outcome of a marketing exercise for Pacific Road Arts Centre, the Transport Museum and Tramway in Birkenhead. This matter was urgent as a decision was required on what should be done in the short term
The Cabinet was reminded of the background to the unsuccessful attempt to dispose of these assets last year and of the basis on which a further marketing exercise had been carried out.
There had been no compliant bids received and the Director had concluded that there was currently no party willing and ready to take over and operate all three assets on the basis specified by the Council.
The Cabinet was however informed that continued interest had been expressed in the premises by Merseytravel and the BEST consortium. In addition it was evident that there was continuing external interest in the future use of Pacific Road, and three separate organisations had sent brief emails expressing interest in operating the Pacific Road Arts Centre alone.
The Director reported that the first step in considering the way forward was to confirm that the Council still wanted to dispose of the operations and the assets and achieve the annual revenue savings from doing so, as previously agreed. On the assumption that this was still the case he proposed a way forward which would include holding discussions with each of the parties that had expressed interest; detailed examination of the feasibility, technical issues and estimated costs in closing and decommissioning the Tramway, and in separating the Tramway infrastructure from the Pacific Road building; an evaluation of potential alternative uses for the buildings at Taylor Street and Pacific Road and discussions with the volunteers currently active in the operation of the Transport Museum and Tramway to assess their interest in a potential community asset transfer of the facilities and their capacity to complete such a transfer and assume full responsibility for the risks and liabilities arising from continued operation.
On conclusion of this work a further report would be submitted to the Cabinet for consideration to allow a final decision to be made on the preferred option for disposal.
The Cabinet was told that Pacific Road Arts Centre was now effectively `mothballed’ with no further programming of performances. One commercial tenant remained in the building. The Director of Technical Services proposed to transfer lighting and sound equipment to the Floral Pavilion to accommodate performances transferred to that venue from Pacific Road but Pacific Road could be reopened as a performance venue if a suitable operator was identified. The Transport Museum and Tramway continued to operate.
The Council had previously committed itself to dispose of these operations and the properties, and there remained a requirement to achieve a budget saving of £250k from doing so. Provision in this amount had been made as a one year policy option for 2011/12 to allow continued operation whilst a permanent solution was developed, but no such provision had been made for 2012/13.
The Cabinet noted that an ePetition had been submitted to the Council. It closed at midnight on 16 February 2012, 122 petitioners had agreed with the petition and none had disagreed.
The Director of Regeneration, Housing and Planning informed that there had been some early stage discussions with Peel Holdings about extending the tram way around the Egerton side of the docks as part of the Wirral Waters scheme.
Cabinet Members agreed that they did not want to lose the Pacific Road venue if they could avoid it. It was an important venue and they wanted to keep its fixtures and fittings in place whilst the further work outlined in the report was undertaken.
(1) the outcome of the recent tender exercise for the disposal of Pacific Road Arts Centre, the Transport Museum and Tramway be noted;
(2) the intention to dispose of these operations and assets be confirmed; and
(3) the Director of Law, HR and Asset Management be instructed to proceed on the basis of the way forward outlined in his report during which time existing fixtures and fittings will be left in Pacific Road, and the costs of this flexible approach be met from balances.
Publication date: 05/04/2012
Date of decision: 29/03/2012
Decided at meeting: 29/03/2012 - Cabinet
Effective from: 17/04/2012