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Unanswered Scrutiny Questions

**Read SOS Scrutiny Questions HERE**



Residents Not Worth a Penny a Day More...

Arlene Phillips signs SOS Petition More.....

Bury Council Ignores own rescue plan More....

Your help is still needed the Longfield Suite is still under threat- if you want to help the SOS campaign please contact:

Kevin Hodges: 07963 488446



Where Does Your Councillor Stand

Every Bury Councillor has been invited to share their views with you, on the future of the Longfield Suite.

Find out what your Councillor has to say, or does not say - on the future of your Longfield Suite: ** HERE **

Read the invitation E-mail ** HERE **


Prestwich Power

On Sunday 6 December 2009, between 12:30pm to 12:45pm. Nearly 300 local residents and user groups braved the cold weather to take part in the Link Together To Save The Longfield Suite event.

With a symbolic joining of hands, three generations of user groups, joined together as a community to send a clear message to Bury Council leaders:

Hands Off Our Longfield Suite




Scrutinising The Scrutineers ^^ TOP ^^

At the Internal Scrutiny meeting of the 20 July 2011, public questions were not answered properly and Bury Councillors on the Scrutiny committee allowed Senior Council Officers to get away with it. Moreover they did not ask any probing questions themselves.

SOS Group questions not answered by the Assistant Director of Operations
Internal Scrutiny Meeting 20 July 2011 Bury Town Hall

Question 1

May I refer the panel to Appendix D The Customer Analysis Charts; I would like to draw your attention to the source of income pie chart. It is clear to see that Bury Venues only generates 1.5% income, which is slightly better than the Yellow pages.

In light of the fact an entry in Yellow Pages costs nothing, does Bury Venues offer good value for money when it costs the Council Taxpayer nearly £400,000 a year.
Download the Assistant Directors Longfield Suite Business Plan Update Report HERE
View SOS meeting handout HERE

Question 2

My question refers to Page 7, Para 7.3 of the report, in which it states:

Responding to SOS correspondence & FOI requests impacts directly on the resources of Council Staff to focus on delivering the business plan for the Longfield Suite. As these FOI requests were processed by the Legal Department, what relevance has this to Bury Venues delivering the Business Plan?
Download the Assistant Directors Longfield Suite Business Plan Update Report HERE
View SOS meeting handout HERE

Question 3

With respect to page 1, paragraph 2.3 where the recession is referred to, I would like to draw the committee’s attention to the following:

At the Full Council Meeting of December 15th 2010 a member of the SOS Group raised concerns about the limited choice of events that took place over the 2010 festive season. Having studied the Audited Accounts for that period, I can reveal to the Committee that the total income for Christmas Eve, Boxing Day & New Years Eve for the Longfield Suite was £3.199.

Yet on Friday February 11th a mere six weeks later a Tribute Night generated £9,500 in income. Did the recession take a day off on February 11th - Or are the Longfield Suites Losses down to the high proportion of events staged by Commercial Operators who are NOT charged a negotiated Commercial Rate to ensure all overheads and administration costs are met.
Download the Assistant Directors Longfield Suite Business Plan Update Report HERE
View SOS meeting handout HERE

Question 4

Mr Chairman: My question refers to Page 7, Para 7.6 of the report, in which it states:

The direction of civic halls as a commercial business or a community service requires further development.

The 2007 Best Value Review of the Civics Suites identified a service with “no strategic direction” and other authorities and competitors were “ahead of the game”.

Why are we in the same position four years later?
Download the Assistant Directors Longfield Suite Business Plan Update Report Report HERE
View SOS meeting handout HERE

Question 5

My question refers to page 4 paragraph 3.3, which states the meeting chaired by KPMG cost £7,300. This meeting lasted one hour. We wish to make it perfectly clear the SOS Group did NOT ask for this meeting, as you will see from the evidence provided tonight.

Under the Audit Commission Act 1998, electors have the right to inspect the accounts of the Authority and question the Auditors. If this provision incurs a charge of £7,300 per hour shouldn’t this be made clear to the electors beforehand.
Download the Assistant Directors Longfield Suite Business Plan Update Report HERE
View SOS meeting handout HERE

Question 6

My question refers to page 7 paragraph 8, last bullet point which states:

To support employing a dedicated Officer assigned to developing new business marketing and promotion across all venues as a 12-month pilot.

Is the Head of Civics not already employed in this capacity according to his job description? Does the proposed employment of a “dedicated officer” indicate unsatisfactory performance by the present post holder at Bury Venues?
Download the Assistant Directors Longfield Suite Business Plan Update Report HERE
View SOS meeting handout HERE

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SOS Handout ^^ BACK ^^

The document below was handed out the meeting. If you want a copy of the supporting evidence please email support@saveoursuite .com.


To the Committee Members from the SOS group 20/07/2011

With reference to the Internal Scrutiny 20th July 2011" The Longfield Suite Business Plan Update," we would like to draw your attention to the following:

With reference to Page 4, Paragraph 3.2:
At Previous Scrutiny Panel meetings the press & public were excluded and all reports/documentation were withheld. Eleven FOI requests over a two-year period to gain information that is freely available at other Councils, highlights Bury Councils lack of transparency at that time. (The SOS Group have only submitted 6 FOI requests)

With reference to Page 4, Paragraph 3.3
The SOS Group did NOT request a meeting with the Audit Commission or the External Auditors (KPMG). It was in fact Bury Council who proposed a meeting with the External Auditors, Senior Council Officers and the SOS Group, we merely agreed to this proposal. We require a full retraction for the statement in this report that we have added a further £7,300 to the Longfield Suite trading losses. (See supporting document: email_kpmg_doc1, fullcouncilQ&A_15_12_10_doc5).

The Audit Commission Act. 1998 states: electors have the right to:
Inspect the accounts of an authority; Ask the auditor questions about the accounts; and
Object to the accounts of the Council if you feel that the Council has spent money unlawfully or there is something in the accounts which is sufficiently significant to warrant a report "in the public interest"

In the public announcement printed in the press, there is no mention of a charge for this service. (See Council_announcement_doc2). In addition, correspondence between Mr T Rees (KPMG) and Ivan Lewis MP no charges were mentioned. Why then did our meeting with KPMG result in a charge of £7,300 for a one-hour meeting? The detailed work resulting from this meeting; the production of minutes, getting them approved by Mr T Rees (KPMG) and generating the matters arising document was DONE BY US, a group of volunteers. We require a full detailed breakdown of this charge.

· The issues regarding central re-charges were not resolved (see minutes/matters arising docs)
· The Councils VAT Calculations provided to the SOS Group were incorrect. (see minutes/matters arising docs).
· "Allowing external bookings/promoters was an acceptable practice and operated at other Councils" was not an issue. Our concern is the practice of allowing Commercial Operators to hire the Suite at rates, which do not cover running costs and administration costs. (See minutes/matters arising docs).

The Assistant Director (EDS) was actioned to check on our claim that the Commercial Operators were being provided with a security guard at a cost of £67.50 and this was NOT reflected in the hire charge, this was strenuously denied by the Assistant Director (EDS). Eventually, the Head Of Strategic Finance informed us that we were CORRECT; the Council Taxpayer was footing the security bill for the security for Commercial Operators. To date, we have not been informed if this practice is still continuing. Extrapolating the cost of this one item for the Longfield Suite yielded a cost to the Council Taxpayer of £12,000.per year. This has been allowed to happen for years. Officers were also sanctioned; Better comparative data to be obtained, by benchmarking the Longfield Suite against other venues. Charges/hire rates to be reviewed against actual running costs. (See minutes/matters arising docs).

NOTE: All supporting documentation will be sent electronically tomorrow morning.

The Save Our Suite Group 20/07/2011


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^^ TOP ^^

Dear Councillor

Re: The Longfield Suite Prestwich

We are writing to offer you some free publicity courtesy of the Save Our Suite campaign website (www.saveoursuite.com).

Members of the Save Our Suite campaign object in the strongest terms to Bury Council's proposal to "reconfigure" the Longfield Suite.

Clearly there are some common sense changes, which need to be made in order to make the Suite more profitable. As you know, Bury Council staff presented these changes to the council's Resource and Performance Scrutiny Commission back in 2007. As far as we can tell, many of the changes have still not been implemented almost three years on.

The Longfield Suite is precious to many local people both as a source of civic pride (its wonderful dance floor and reputation) and for the health and well-being benefits offered. Any "reconfiguration" of the Suite's dance floor will remove many of these benefits from a town, which has no public pool or leisure centre. This will undermine the council's aim of making Bury "the healthiest borough in the North West".

Consultation tells us time and time again that local people want to retain the Suite. In view of what we may be about to lose, we believe the people of Prestwich and Whitefield have a right to know which of the borough's elected representatives are fighting to preserve this well-loved asset.

We intend to publish on our website a list of all councillors who are supporting local people by opposing "reconfiguration" of the Longfield Suite's dance floor. We will gladly include any supporting statement you care to make, as long as it makes your position on this issue crystal clear.

Please respond by 28th February 2010 if you would like to be included on this list.

Kind regards