LETTER: Jubilee Park - the whole rotten saga

As you are aware, Friends of Jubilee Park (FOJP) supported the transfer of Jubilee Park from the Parish Council to a community orientated company that would be a registered charity.

This company was made up of five interim directors from the Woodhall Spa area who have been working tirelessly for the past 18 months, sometimes under arduous conditions, to secure the financial future and longevity of Jubilee Park for the people of Woodhall Spa.

The company they set up was a charitable company limited by guarantee. This means that should the park fail, any debt would stay with the company, and the park would return to the Parish Council debt free - the people of Woodhall Spa would not carry any liability.

The interim directors were to be:

Tim Peacock - past Headmaster of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Horncastle, from 1986-2009. Tim was also instrumental in securing the ongoing future of Woodhall Spa Youth Club, the Young Union

Keith Scarborough - born in Mareham le Fen, Keith moved to Woodhall Spa when he married 42 years ago and runs his own plumbing and heating business locally.

Julie Pole - is a local girl who has worked as a Nurse Practitioner at the Tasburgh Lodge Surgery in Woodhall Spa for the past 27 years. Julie has raised £1,000s for Jubilee Park over the years with her latest ambitious project being the re-creation of the Rose Garden in the Park’s grounds.

Emma Brearly - is a director of The Petwood Hotel and has helped run the family business for the past 17 years.

Justin Scarborough - was born in Woodhall Spa and is now a successful regional directors of Travis Perkins.

We would sincerely like to thank these people for their time and effort over the past 18 months and we appreciate everything they have tried to do to keep the swimming pool open to the community and secure its safe running alongside the beautiful grounds and the caravan park. They are to be commended.

In order to achieve charity status the new company was required to operate under strict terms and conditions, all of which were focussed on operating Jubilee Park for the benefit of the local community and maintaining it is a leisure and recreation facility.

To secure the park’s long term future, the new company had spent months developing, researching and budgeting a business plan that would enable the park to succeed yet retain its status, appeal and attraction to the whole community.

This needed a substantial financial investment which was being sought through grant and charity funding.

A key element of this plan was the provision of a local health and fitness suite which was designed to benefit local NHS patients needing physiotherapy, people requiring long term rehabilitation and local families and individuals just wanting to get fitter.

This was imperative to support the park, provide the opportunity for local employment and make the park financially viable.

This professional business plan required the leases to be signed by the end of February to meet some funding application deadlines and provide sufficient time for the plan to be put into operation.

After many months of discussion regarding the structure of the transfer to the new company, the parish council finally produced a lease in October 2013.

The new company provided immediate feedback on clauses within the lease and made the aspects that would need to be amended.

These requested changes were reported back to the full Parish Council and numerous votes took place to agree alterations - key decision were made by the Parish Council at their meeting on December 10.

A final vote at the Parish Council meeting on February 4 which agreed to remove the last clause that was too restrictive also received confirmation that the new community company would sign the lease and move forward.

It then transpired that the Parish Council had apparently re-instated a clause, or clauses, that had previously been removed at the meeting on December 10.

A further meeting of the Parish Council was then called to discuss the remaining clauses. This meeting on February 18 again agreed to remove the clause that has been re-introduced and was blocking the transfer.

On the morning of March 4, fours councillors (Webb, Sisley, Sanderson and Wells) wrote a letter to the council asking for the vote to be taken on February 18 to be discounted and for a new vote to take place.

Six councillors (Linda Sisley, Lucy Wells, Richard Sanderson, Roger Webb, Craig Aitken and Mike Armstrong) voted to overturn the original decision - this was a decision the Parish Council had previously agreed on December 10 and February 18.

Sadly, this ended the opportunity of the Parish Council leasing the park to the new company and has wasted months if not years of hard work researching, planning and budgeting a successful future for Jubilee Park.

Four of the above mentioned councillors (Sibley, Sanderson, Aitken and Armstrong) provisionally nominated themselves as directors of a new company although we believe this may now have been changed.

To date, the only concept of a business plan that has been publicised in the Horncastle News is to reduce the number of life guards.

If the park continues operating under the current structure with the park remaining in the hands of the Parish Council, any losses incurred will have to be met out of the Parish Council budget and any shortfall would need to be passed on to every council-tax paying resident in Woodhall Spa.

East Lindsey District Council offered Woodhall Spa Parish Council help to fund the running of the park for the first five years after the handover in 2011. This help decreases every year and runs out at the end of next year.

The Council Annual Meeting will be held on March 27 at 7pm in Coronation Hall. Please attend this meeting.

This is a good time to talk to these councillors, heading by David Clark, to ask what the council’s business plan is for Jubilee Park and how the propose to fund the park in the future, maintain the pool’s safety and keep it open.

To date, the recent action of the Parish Council have culminated in the resignations of three valued Parish Councillors, David Hill, Tim Peacock and Jo Nelstrop.

Subsequently, it is with great sadness that we now also hear Joe Stanhope, manager of Jubilee Park, has tended his resignation

The Friends of Jubilee Park