Cabinet 15/10/2013 for Information Agenda Item 89

Cabinet 15/10/2013 for Information Agenda Item 89





19th SEPTEMBER 2013






1 / Purpose
1.1 / To review thepetition presented to Council on 16th July 2013 by the Poole Beach Hut Association (PBHA) regarding the annual British Beach Polo Championships Event.
1.2 / To provide informationin relation to the event and respond to the points raised by the PBHA.
2 / RecommendationsDecision Required
2.1 / Members are asked to note the information within the report and make recommendations to Cabinet as to whether the Council should enter into discussions about provision of a further event licence to hold the British Beach Polo Championships event in its current location and form at Sandbanks Beach.
2.2 / Members are also asked to comment on whether they feel the actions to mitigate the impact of the event are sufficient and appropriate and whether a further review of the event should be undertaken 1 year before the end of new licence (if provided).
3 / Background
3.1 / The polo event started in 2008 and is held each year in July on Sandbanks Beach West of the main entrance way. The event is organised by Sandpolo Ltd and typically consists of an International / Home Nations Championship Polo competition, floodlit beach polo, professional Beach Volleyball matches, a 4x4 v Polo Pony Charity Race, other sporting and social activities, live music and offers a broad range of tickets from general admission to VIP. More information can be viewed on the event website Also see Appendix 1 for information about the event from the event organisers.
3.2 / The Council strives to maximise the overall benefits that this event brings to the people of Poole. Benefits for residents include:
  • attracts thousands of local people & tourists and offers free public viewing for residents and visitors
  • brings positive promotion via extensive media exposure helping to keep Poole on the national & international map, estimated by the event organisers to be £600k/yr
  • offers substantial economic benefits for Poole, independently valued at more than £335,000 each year (Bournemouth University 2009)
  • employs many local people and contributes significantly to charities.

3.3 / The Council also benefits directly from a site rental payment (see 4.3). The event helps to meet the desire of local residents (articulated through the Poole Opinion Panel) for more events on Poole’s beaches, especially at Sandbanks (see 4.5.1). It is acknowledged that there can be some disruption from the increased activity on the promenade during the event which the Council has worked hard to minimise (see 4.5.2).
3.4 / The Council has received a petition on 16th July 2013 from Committee Members of Poole Beach Hut Association (PBHA). The petition was presented in the following terms:
“We ask you to sign this petition to help to try and get full Council to reconsider running this event which causes major disruption on Poole’s premiere beach and results in the beach being out of use for both residents who pay large Council taxes, numerous visitors who go away disappointed and beach hut lessees who cannot use their paid for amenities. The Event costs Poole Council (and hence local residents) a large sum of money in additional policing, beach preparation, loss of car park fees, health and safety policing, lost beach hut revenue, after event clearing up etc and, despite initial assurance, brings little or no benefit to Poole taxpayers or local residents. Event organisers pay a ludicrously small fee to Poole Council for exclusive use of this beach for almost two weeks.”.
Appendix 2provides the text of the PBHA petition and Officer responses to each specific point.
4 / Information
4.1 / Licence
4.1.1 / Originally offered as an annual licence, the Council agreed a 2 year licence for 2011 & 2012. This was reviewed after the 2011 event and extended until 2014 to enable the organisers to develop a 3 year event plan, invest in infrastructure and secure sponsorships. The decision to extend until 2014 was taken by the Head of Service in consultation with the Portfolio Holder with the following conditions:
  • Increase in licence fees
  • Continued support for Football Focus
  • Offer each beach hut a pair of tickets
  • Extend support to Charities, Community Groups & Schools
The organisers have expressed a desire to stage the event beyond 2014 but do not currently have a licence or a financial agreement with the Council.
4.2 / Event Income & Expenditure
4.2.1 / Information from the event organiser related to event income and expenditure is as follows:
£ / 2011
£ / 2012
Sales / 206,513 / 211,609 / 217,516
Direct Costs / 94,727 / 122,340 / 158,462
Gross Profit / 111,786 / 89,274 / 59,054
Management & Admin / 46,903 / 50,605 / 52,189
Insurance / 2,450 / 1,500 / 1,100
Advertising marketing & PR / 40,464 / 3,007 / 3,545
Professional & legal fees / 4,523 / 1,956 / 2,320
Net financial costs / 1,400 / 2,704 / 4,283
Net profit before bad debts / 16,046 / 29,502 / 4,283
Bad Debts / 51,013 / - / -
Net Profit / (Loss) / (34,967) / 29,502 / 4,283
4.3 / Costs and charges
4.3.1 / The net fee charged by the Council for the event (i.e. Event Support Fee plus Site Hire Fee minus discount for use of the polo arena for the FOCUS Community Football Event) was £2900 in 2013 and will be £3700 in 2014. The fees charged will have increased by 115% in 3 years from £1,725 in 2011.
4.3.2 / All event organisation costs including facilities, marketing, music & alcohol license, staffing, security, event refuse clearance, etc, are borne by the event organisers. Additional services supplied by the Council are also paid for by the organiser, for example, this year the event organiser paid the Council a total of £597 for provision and emptying of 15 x 1100ltr bins.
The organisers are also charged for 66 reserved spaces if the car park reaches capacity, which it did on the Friday and Saturday this year and the organisers paid £1584 plus £255 for car park cleaning. 8 free spaces are provided free of charge even if the car park reaches capacity.
The Council provides the organisers with access to a beach hut (subject to availability) to use during the event set up and take down enabling close management of activities on the promenade and interaction with the general public.
4.3.3 / Any additional expenses incurred by the Council are passed on to the organisers, such as legal fees, inspection of marquees and grandstand facilities, etc. The Council does not charge for all staff costs related to the event because support for events forms part of the normal duties of many officers and are not charged to other events. However,if the Council was to directly incur additional staff costs to oversee or support event operations, for example, managing the movement of vehicles, the organisers would be liable for the costs incurred.
4.4 / Economic Impact Assessment Research
4.4.1 / In 2009, the Council commissioned Bournemouth University’sMarket Research Group (MRG) to undertake a professional assessment of the full economic impact of the event. The research also encompassed two other beach events (Volleyball and Windfest).
The Economic Impact Study was presented to the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee in February 2010 and showed that the overall benefits to the local economy for the 2009 events were:
Event / Total Direct Spend1in Poole (Inc Tickets) (£’s) / Total Impact2 All UK
Beach Polo / 256,000 / 337,000
Beach Volleyball / 44,000 / 80,000
Animal Poole Windfest / 72,000 / 115,000
TOTAL / 372,000 / 532,000
Note 1: Direct Spend refers to the money directly spend by visitors to the summer events in Poole as recorded by the visitor survey. This figure is calculated utilising the length of stay, number of days visited and other factors to ensure accuracy. Figures are then factored to represent the total number of visitors to the events.
Note 2: Total impact is a combination of Indirect and Induced. Indirect refers to the ripple effect on businesses from direct spend. It takes into consideration the increase/decrease in, for example, stock, orders for supplies, raw material, transport expenditure etc. It is calculated by applying a multiplier to spend. The multiplier varies according to the category of goods purchased. Induced refers to the additional impact resulting from expenditure on goods and services in the areas under consideration by recipients of both direct and indirect income. It is calculated by applying a multiplier to spend. The multiplier varies according to the category of goods purchased.
4.4.2 / The Economic Impact Study also showed that more than half the people attending the polo event were day visitors who lived locally and that the polo event was attended by a higher proportion of local residents than other beach events.
4.5 / Public Feedback
4.5.1 / In 2009 the views of Poole residents were also sought via the Poole Opinion Panel on special events in Poole, with specific reference given to events on Poole’s beaches. In summary, the findings were:
  • 80% of residents agreeing or strongly agreeing that events are good on Poole’s beaches;
  • 81% of residents stating that events are good for residents;
  • 79% of residents stating that they would like to see more events on Poole’s beaches;
  • The main type of events preferred for Poole’s beaches were Music, Sport and Arts events;
  • 71% of residents would like to see events take place at Sandbanks Beach.

4.5.2 / The Council does receive some negative comments regarding the event, most notably from beach hut tenants in Sandbanks (West) and the Council accepts that it can be disruptive for tenants with huts adjacent to the event site. For an event of this size and complexity however, the number of grievances are overall very low.
Officers carry out thorough post-eventreviews and work with the event organiser to try to minimise disruption by: offering alternative huts, improving management of beach levels, changing the site layout, providing additional toilets, minimising set up & take down timings, offering free tickets for beach hut tenants, etc.
As a trial in 2012, tenants who visited their hut and found that the event activities were causing them a disturbance were offered unoccupied short term let huts in different locations, including elsewhere at Sandbanks, free of charge. This system was extended for 2013 and 3 tenants used this service.
4.5.3 / The Beach Office recorded 10 direct comments from the public during the 2013 event. The Beach Office did not record all event queries some of which were referred to the event organisers.
Of the 10 recorded comments, 8 were negative; the main issues were disruption from site construction, low perceived community benefit or the policy for providing alternative huts. 1 other negative comment was received about PBHA’s distribution of negative publicity about the event. 1 comment was supportive of the event but wanted the event fees to increase.
4.5.4 / A petition against the event was presented to Council in 2011 and accepted as part of the consultation process in deciding whether to offer an extended licence for 2013 & 14. The Council has received a further petition on 16th July 2013 from Committee Members of Poole Beach Hut Association (PBHA). Please see Appendix 2 for the full terms of PBHA submission and presentation.
The points raised by the PBHA have been analysed and Officers have invited comments on the event from a range of internal and external partners. Officers found the event is generally well supported and valued and that much of the information presented to potential petition signatories and to Council is biased, factually incorrect without evidence.
Some of PBHA’s key points are considered below, please see Appendix 2 for the full Officer assessment. / In contrast to the information presented by PBHA, the event is held on a very small area (4%) of the seafront and the event organisers are usually on-site for 9 days outside the main holiday season, not 2 weeks as indicated by PBHA. / PBHA have stated that “...numerous visitors who go away disappointed.” Officers found no evidence to substantiate this claim and observed many people enjoying the beach with plenty of room to accommodate large numbers of additional visitors.
Comments from Poole Tourism Management Board:
"Poole Tourism warmly welcomes the British Beach Polo Championships to Poole annually, recognising that it continues to enhance the profile of the resort whilst making prestigious use of Sandbanks beach. Tourists and residents alike are attracted to the beautiful location and local businesses benefit not only directly from the spectators on the day but also from those who stay longer in the area. The quality event pushes all of our promotional buttons." (Bruce Grant-Braham, Chair)
Further comments from the Tourism Manager, Graham Richardson valued the importance of the event in relation to:
  • attracting positive local, regional and national media for Poole, including the recent ITV series Harbour Lives which featured aspects of the event.
  • the overall special events programme, the uniqueness of this event and the importance of attracting other events following the withdrawal of Windfest to ensure Poole is viewed as desirable, competitive and up-to-date.
  • the local economy including hoteliers, guest houses and self-catering property and other local businesses who spend on hospitality to nurture and develop current and potential clients.
Appendix 1supplied by the event organisers, provides details of the broad based media coverage the event secures for Poole. / The PBHA, in their statement to Council on 16 July 2013 stated that “The Bournemouth University survey is flawed and is being misrepresented in terms of the benefits to Poole.”
The Market Research Group (MRG) of Bournemouth University has responded by stating, “The data described in the report was prepared using a robust methodology that should give confidence in the results.” / Banquet’s of Oxford, owners of Sandbanks Cafe, are also supportive of the event and have stated that, “Sandpolo does not impact on our business and having these kinds of events is hugely beneficial to all and we have no objection to this particular event”. Sue Bennett, Catering Manager, Banquets of Oxford. / The event undergoes a detailed examination of Health & Safety by the Poole Event Safety Advisory Group (SAG), which is attended by representatives from the Council and all the Emergency Services.
It is the view of the Poole SAG and the Officer’s responsible for events in Poole that in general risks are well managed andthe event is professionally run by a proactive and competent event organiser.
Officers have also contacted the First Stop Security, the local firm contracted to manage site safety and Dorset Police asking for their feedback about this year’s event.
Dorset Police noted some instances of anti-social behaviour and/or public disorder on the evening of Friday 12thJuly and warnings were given regarding fixed penalty notices for repeat behaviour to some individuals.
First Stop Security had some concerns about the volume of people arriving at a similar time on Friday 12th July (also see event organisers comments in Appendix 2) but managed this situation and they felt the Saturday evening event went smoothly as with previous years.
It is the Officer’s view that with events of this size, it is not possible to completely eradicate all risk or account for the actions of some individuals. However, there are robust procedures in place to ensure that, as much as is reasonably possible, risk is managed, minimised and reviewed.
4.6 / Other Information
4.6.1 / The event organisers have submitted notes for consideration by this Committee, please see Appendix 1.
4.6.2 / In their statement to Council, the PBHA have referenced a request made to the Council in May 2013 by one of their committee members, under the Freedom of Information Act, for information relating to the event.
Officers did their best to respond to this extensive request but therequester was unhappy with the response provided and asked that it was reviewed by the Council’s Corporate Complaints Officer. The comments of the reviewing officer have been accepted by the Council and further information (where publically available) has been provided to PBHA.
There was no intent on the part of the Council to mislead or deny PBHA access to information. Additional information, which has subsequently become available, has also been included within this report, supporting the Council’s policy of transparency. Officers are not aware of anything outstanding.
5 /
Policy Implications
5.1 / The polo event contributes to the Council’s objectives and priorities- most significantly to:
  • Stimulating and maintaining a vibrant, mixed economy – through economic impact and involvement of local companies
  • Strengthening Our Communities – by engaging volunteers and community groups
  • Promoting Health & Well Being – many events are sports based
  • Supporting Children and Young People – local schools are able to visit the polo on the Friday and the facilities are used for FOCUS Football on the Sunday

6 /
Legal Implications
6.1 / Sandpolo Ltd has a licence to operate the event in 2014. The licence does not contain provision for early termination except in the event of a breach of terms.
7 /
Financial Implications
7.1 / The Council receives direct income from the fees charged. Other costs associated with the event are borne by the organisers (see 4.3 for details).
The fees charged are in line with the Council’s Community Events Fee Policy and whilst it can be easy to suggest a higher fee, in practice charges need to be fair, equitable and comparable with other Category “D” (extra large) events in Poole. Charges also need to be affordable or organisers may take their events elsewhere. The Community Events Fee Policy will be reviewed during 13/14 to determine charges for 2015 and beyond.
Fees are charged to contribute to the Council’s costsof ensuringevents, especially large events,are managed properly. See 8.1 below. If the event was not held, the Council would lose the direct income but would not make any direct revenue saving.
7.2 / The Council accepts that there may be some lost income from short term rental (STR) beach huts at Sandbanks during the event, however this is difficult to prove, disprove or quantify, since anecdotal feedback suggests that those people who may be put off by the event activities either book alternative areas in Poole, or different dates.
The PBHA has previously stated that, “The losses are nil STR income for 2 weeks for 22 adjoining huts is £9548[.]” (Bob Lister, PBHA Chairman 10/7/13).
The Council feels this estimate is inaccurate, based on unrealistic occupancy levels and that the wider economic gain is worth the risk of minor rental losses since many STR huts are not occupied during early July,because it is out of the main holiday season.
Income from short term rentals at Sandbanks during July rose from £10.5k in 2012 to £12.6k in 2013. Overall income from short term rentals in Poole has risen steadily over recent years from £55k in 09/10 to £119k in 12/13.
7.3 / The information in the MRG Economic Impact Study shows that the event brings significant benefit to the local economy through direct spend and indirect impact.
8 / Risk Management Implications
8.1 / All events in public places bring risks which need to be managed and the Council does incur some costs in administration. The growth of events in recent years has increased the workload and subsequently the costs to the Council and therefore the Community Events Policy was introduced to provide a structured approach to charging. The fees charged to the polo organisers have risen steadily in line with this policy and are comparable with other commercial events of this size.
8.2 / However, increased charges to event organisers also increase the risk that organisers may take their events elsewhere.
8.3 / To minimise the risk of disruption to beach hut tenants and beach visitors from event activities, officers carry out thorough wash-ups of the event and work with the event organiser offer alternative huts, improving management of beach levels, changing the site layout, providing additional toilets, minimising set up & take down timings, offering free tickets for beach hut tenants, etc.
8.4 / The level of detailed analysis of this event and the time taken in reporting presents a significant risk that work on other Council projects and priorities may be delayed or cancelled.
9 / Equalities Implications
9.1 / Tickets for the polo are offered at a range of different prices starting at £25,which compares favourably to other sporting events and the organisers provide an elevated public viewing area offering the general public the opportunity to enjoy the arena activities free of charge.
The event is accessible to people in wheels chairs through the use of hard flooring and preferential seating.
10 / Environmental Impact
10.1 / None to report.
11 /
11.1 / It is hoped that the information and research within this report increases understanding of the benefits and costs of the polo event.
There is evidence that the event is widely supported and:
  • attracts thousands of local people & tourists
  • brings positive promotion to Poole
  • offers substantial economic benefits and employs many local people and
  • contributes significantly to charities
Officers feel the Council has, and continues to, listen to those who oppose the event, genuinely considering and taking on board their opinions.
The organisers have expressed a desire to stage the event beyond 2014 and the Council needs to consider whether Officers should enter into discussions about provision of a further event licence.

Background Information