Handing control of a public hall to voluntary groups will save taxpayers £425,000 over five years, it is estimated.
Hounslow Council pays its leisure contractor Fusion Lifestyle £85,000 a year to run Isleworth Public Hall, in South Street, Isleworth.
But it plans to hand over daily management of the building to a new consortium of non-profit groups, which would run it at no cost to the council, on a five-year lease beginning in April.
Cabinet members are due to decide next Tuesday (January 14) whether to appoint the Isleworth Public Hall Consortium, consisting of the Friends of Isleworth Public Hall, Hounslow Seniors Trust, youth charity HAAYA and Middlesex Housing Cooperative, to run the hall.
A report by Councillor Ajmer Grewal, cabinet member for leisure, recommends appointing the group provided it proves it can meet the promises made in its proposal.
However, the report reveals there are still some reservations over the consortium’s bid, in particular when it comes to the cash-flow projections. The council’s obligations, meanwhile, including maintenance of the building, also need to be clarified.
In the report, Ms Grewal state: “These recommendations are being made to ensure the hall is run cost-effectively and sustainably, and that it remains highly valued and well used by the local community, and responsive to the needs of local people.”
The council invited bids in autumn last year to run the hall, which it felt was not being used to its ‘true potential’, but only the consortium and the Isleworth Blue School Community Association applied.
Both proposals failed to meet the council’s criteria, as did revised applications from the two groups. The Blue School then dropped out, leaving just the consortium to present further amended plans, which finally passed muster, to a council panel in late November.
Should the consortium be appointed, it raises the possibility of other public halls being handed over to voluntary groups. Similar proposals were on the table back in 2011, only to be shelved due to concerns about insurance costs and other issues.