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Department introduces measure to encourage after-hours use of buildings 5 January 2011

THE Department of Education and Children has received comments from regular hirers of its buildings that any increase in fees would reduce the use of the buildings and that if it were possible to reduce fees, this would encourage more use of the sport and recreation facilities.

Dozens of educational, youth, sports, music and cultural groups hire school halls and classrooms and other DEC buildings after hours and this improves the quality of life for Island residents.

Lettings bring in £89,800 a year to DEC coffers but cost the Department £121,600 in staffing costs, leading to a net loss of £31,800. Some 55 DEC buildings are let for use out of hours. SRG 38

Eddie Teare MHK, Minister for Education and Children, said: ‘We are reviewing ways in which we can manage the costs of renting out our facilities to make them more affordable and encourage wider use. I am also mindful that the advice of the Public Health Directorate is that physical and sporting activities should be encouraged and I would like to work with that medical advice in mind.’

The Department is considering the way forward but initially, as a large number of lettings are to DEC-run youth projects and Isle of Man College-run external classes, it seems logical to train DEC staff who are present at sessions to act as keyholders and this will reduce the pressure on the staff who currently undertake these duties, the Minister said.

‘It would be counterproductive to the many users of DEC buildings to raise charges and, under this proposal, we can maximise the use of our buildings and continue to provide accessible, affordable and well-equipped meeting places for youth, educational, sports, music and cultural organisations.
‘It is hoped that this proposal will be a template for organisations that are not related to the Department of Education and Children to have designated keyholders for some of the sports and recreational facilities in our buildings. If the experiment is successful then I anticipate it will be rolled out across our lettings, leading to a reduction in our costs and helping to manage our expenses more effectively for the benefit of our customers.’

PHOTO: Scoill Ree Gorree, the £7.5 million junior school in Ramsey, is put to full use by pupils during the daytime but is one of many buildings that can be hired out of hours

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