Today there was a discussion about community play facilities in County Hall. I had raised the subject because far too many of our local play facilities are old and falling apart. Regular readers will know the battles I have had trying to get the facilities on the Ridgegrove Estate brought up to standard and they were included in the debate.
Many of our play facilities, notably those in the old North Cornwall and Carrick areas, fall within the Housing Revenue Account. That means that the money to maintain and improve them has to come out of the rents paid by council tenants. Of course the users of these facilities are not just the children of council tenants but also of private tenants and home owners. So, the argument goes, why should these facilities not be paid for out of the general fund.
I have a lot of sympathy for this argument. HRA funding should be used to improve the homes of council tenants and play facilities will always be seen as the back of the queue.
When we asked about transferring the play areas to the general fund we were told that there would be a transfer fee. Apparently it would cost around £2000 per play area to transfer responsibility from the HRA to general fund. With around 49 HRA play areas that would make the total cost around £100,000.
We could debate whether this would be money well spent. But I would rather focus on why on earth Cornwall Council thinks it is right that simply transferring a facility from one part of the council to another can cost so much.