Monday, 14 September 2015

Brent recommends Thames21 to take over Welsh Harp Education Centre

One of the Centre ponds that has become overgrown and dried out due to lack of maintenance over the summer
The Cabinet will consider a recommendation that the charity Thames21 takes over the lease of the Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre at its meeting on September 21st. They also recommend that Thames21 talk to the other bidder, Careys, about the possibility of forming a partnership to run the Centre.

Local schools have been uncertain about the future of the Centre and normally school visits would have been starting next week.  The report LINK suggests that visits will start again in October but that seems a little optimistic given what needs to be put in place before children attend.

The report bases its recommendation on the bid evaluation:

Based on the evaluation, the recommendation is to proceed with the Thames 21 application. Thames 21 is an experienced environmental education organisation with a strong track record of delivering effective, community volunteering, engagement and educational events and activities to local communities promoting environmental awareness. The charity delivers practical and engaging environmental activities that teach young people about the need to care for their natural environment. As well as the educational work, Thames 21 looks to connect local people and communities with their local environment enabling a stronger sense of community ownership. With an existing environmental education programme in place, in addition to an established centre at the WHEEC, Thames 21 will transform the way environmental education activities are already currently being delivered and will make a positive difference
 However there are risks involved:

.        It is noteworthy that there are risks associated with the Thames 21 application. Most prominent is the lack of a full business plan., The submitted application noted the following risks: 
       The current income is not sufficient to support the expenditure or running the service. 

       The risk of the education centre shutting down reduces demand next year.
       That Thames 21 is unsuccessful with various funding applications to 
develop the centre to its full potential. 

       The cost of upgrading the infrastructure of the centre is significantly higher 
then envisaged. 

       The running costs of the centre are significantly higher then envisaged. 

.        The following mitigation plan is proposed by Thames 21 with outcomes reviewed at the year end self assessment process as detailed in the CAT policy: 
       To inspect financial records for the centre. 

       To contact all schools who have used the centre previously to ensure they 
are aware that the centre will be remaining open. Use current staff knowledge and relationships to build links with schools/ users. Attend School Heads meetings within Brent and surrounding boroughs to promote the centre. 

       To use Thames 21 experience, expertise and contacts for successful funding applications.
       To undertake inspections of the site (infrastructure) and development of a costed business plan and to develop alternative funding sources. 

       To undertake inspections of the site (running costs) and develop a costed business plan and to develop alternative funding sources.    

Next steps 

A proposed programme is set out below (proposed dates may be subject to change):
1.     Welsh Harp was consecrated in the 1950’s as the original proposal was that the site would at some stage become a graveyard. This creates complexities that will need to be resolved before the letting can take place and expert advice is being sought. 

2.     Heads of terms have been issued – subject to Cabinet and contract - on 21 August 2015. 

3.     On receipt of the signed heads of terms the draft CAT lease will be issued by 1 September 2015 – subject to Cabinet approval. 

4.     Cabinet consideration - 21 September 2015. 

5.     Thames 21 to open the WHEEC by October 2015 

The consecrated land issue has  previously been highlighted on this blog:  Kingsbury Lawn Cemetery LINK

No comments: