Wednesday, 25 February 2004

Ceisteanna (32)

Paul Nicholas Gogarty


112 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if the guidelines on public private partnership in relation to swimming pools have been published; if they have been circulated to local authorities; if the restriction that existed for applications for funding for swimming pools under such guidelines has been withdrawn, as in the case of a proposed pool for Lucan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6106/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism)

The closing date for receipt of applications under the current round of the local authority swimming pool programme was 31 July 2000. No application was made in respect of a swimming pool in Lucan before that date.

An interdepartmental working group was set up in August 1999, to develop guidelines and advise on the other key issues for the operation of a public private partnership, PPP approach in relation to swimming pools. The group was chaired by my Department and made up of members from the then Department of the Environment and Local Government, the Office of Public Works and representatives from three local authorities. The work of this group is now being used to assist my Department in formulating future policy on swimming pools in the context of an expenditure review of the local authority swimming pool programme, which is currently underway and due to be completed by the middle of this year.

This review is examining, among other things, how the programme has worked to date, the benefits which have accrued to the areas where pools have been built and what changes, if any, are required to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of the programme. In that context, finite Exchequer resources and the potential of private sector involvement in the provision of swimming pool facilities will be considered. On completion of this review, the question of revising current guidelines and re-opening the local authority swimming pool programme will be considered. Should the programme be re-opened, all local authorities will be notified.

Government policy in regard to the public private partnership process is co-ordinated by the Department of Finance with advice on individual projects available from the National Development Finance Agency. In general terms, public private partnerships can be a useful vehicle in the provision of large scale infrastructure and amenities to address the needs of expanding communities. Co-operation between local authorities and private sector can act as a means of supplementing and expanding such facilities. However, while it is open to local authorities to pursue this process in regard to any project which they intend to promote, it is generally accepted that the scale of investment in a swimming pool project is not sufficiently large to support a formal PPP.

Question No. 113 answered with QuestionNo. 109.