Riverside Civic Hall, Whitworth
The Riverside Civic Hall in Whitworth is operated by Community Leisure Association Whitworth (CLAW) and was rebuilt following a fire in 2006 as a large scale performance and community space. CLAW also manages Whitworth Leisure Centre which consists of a swimming pool and fitness suite. It was envisaged that the rebuilt Riverside Civic Hall (“The Riverside”) would generate profits to cover the operational costs of the Leisure Centre, this had not been achieved and the Council continued to subsidise the operation of the Leisure Centre. The brief focused on working with CLWA to review activity, performance and recommending ways of improving profitability.
This was highly sensitive brief with the potential for significant conflict between the Council and CLAW. The Association represents an excellent example of grass roots community action and a social enterprise providing a service to which the local community attached a high value, but the Local Authority was unable to provide ongoing subsidy. Globe initially worked with a range of Council officers in order to fully understand the Councils funding and policy issues. This was followed by a detailed review of all aspects of the operation, programme, staffing and accounting records for the Centre. To ensure transparency throughout the project the Council agreed to Globe sharing all draft reports and findings with CLAW trustees in the first instance.
We were able to identify a number of weaknesses in the operation and programme of the facility as well as in the interaction between the two organisations. Mitigations for these were recommended and adopted. Globe also prepared a revised business plan based on reduced opening hours and a restricted programme that initially allowed the Centre to achieve break-even and a three year plan to generate a surplus. We also obtained agreement from the Council to provide CLAW with accountancy and audit support, which led to a sharing of management accounts information. The Centre was granted interim funding to allow CLAW to revise its operation structure.
Globe undertook this project working with Affiliate Simon Johnson a financial and property management specialist.