Consideration was given to a report of the Executive Director, Place and Economic Growth which sought approval to support the provision of a new high specification pitch facilities to unlock wider opportunities for further investment in community sports pitches, enhanced education provision, more health opportunities and creation of additional employment opportunities.
It was reported that the Council was aware of the Borough’s outstanding sporting achievements with some amazing contributions locally, regionally, nationally and internationally from Oldham’s residents and communities. The elite sporting achievements were now in a number of different sporting fields including netball, cricket, rugby, and we’re now hoping for a turn of fortune following the recent acquisition of Oldham Athletic Football Club.
As with many sporting activities, grass roots provision and investment in youth provision, clubs and community facilities were paramount to help secure a more successful and sustainable future, with talent management and development opportunities to help people, teams and clubs reach their highest possible potential.
The Council had facilitated the coming together of the Football and Rugby clubs in Oldham, both Oldham Athletic and Oldham RLFC.
The investment in a new pitch at Boundary Park the Council would assist with the Rugby Club’s shared ambition of playing their home games at Boundary Park from the 2024 season.
Option 1 – To approve the capital grant funding, subject to agreeing a formal grant funding agreement and subject to subsidy control rules. This would unlock all the opportunities identified in this report, and careful / robust monitoring regimes would ensure obligations are met for wider community benefit.
Option 2 – Do not proceed with the finance agreement. This would protect Council capital funds, but it would not bring about any of the enhanced facilities described in this report for sport, enhanced skills and training programmes, nor importantly facilities for Oldham’s residents and community groups.
Option 3 – To consider the development of a business case for a new multi-million pound sports facility to bring about the same benefits as options 1, to secure rugby league within the borough and to provide enhanced community facilities. This option is not recommended due to the significant impact on time, resource and future funding investment decisions needed to secure the same outcomes as the grant award / financial agreement.
RESOLVED – That:
1. The retention of rugby league matches for Oldham Rugby League Football Club within the Borough boundaries and to facilitate growth in community engagement and participation be approved.
2. The growth and enhancement of higher education provision within the Borough to support a new pipeline of complementary health and sporting employment opportunities be approved.
3. A grant of £1million capital funding from Council Capital Strategy to enable the provision of an enhanced pitch facility at Boundary Park, which was needed to unlock recommendations 1 and 2 above be approved.
4. Delegation be given to the Executive Director for Place and Economic Growth, and Directors of Finance and Legal Services in consultation with the Leader of the Council to finalise the grant agreement subject to subsidy control, terms and conditions, and obligations for wider community use linked to recommendations 1 and 2 above, and as set out in this report.