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Bewl Valley Sailing Club set for administration

by Trevor Spink 24 Jun 2015 14:20 BST 24 June 2015
Bewl Valley Sailing Club © BVSC

Very sadly, it looks like Bewl Valley Sailing Club may be closing its doors and sailing in the South East may be losing one of its best inland venues.

In 2008 the club signed a lease where they paid £160,000 a year for the use of their facilities - the club lost money every year since. This level of rent was untenable for a members' sailing club and far more than comparable clubs, such as Queen Mary SC which pays around £20,000 per year. The club has carried on until now through reserves and the goodwill of the membership, both of which are now exhausted.

A fall-off in membership forced the club to approach their landlord, Bewl Water Boating Ltd. to renegotiate the level of rent the Club has to pay. Their request was for a rent-free period and to renegotiate the rent in-line with a level the Club could bear moving forward.

On Thursday 18th of June the club received the outcome of these discussions and not only has the landlord refused any movement but in addition they have rescinded a longstanding agreement for them to pay their rent monthly. The landlord presented the club with an invoice for the next 3 months as per the terms or their original lease, making the club unable to pay its debts as they fall due. The landlord's action has had the direct result of making the club technically insolvent.

Given the intransigence of the landlord, it would appear that they have no desire to see Bewl Valley Sailing Club continue and they possibly have other plans for the site.

The club's options are limited and will be presented at an Extraordinary General Meeting. They are contacting their MP's and Southern Water to lobby on their behalf as they believe this will likely fundamentally change the usage of Bewl Water.

Unless an alternative source of funding is made available to the club, they are now unable to pay their debts as they fall due. The lease offers 21 days of protection before the landlord can enter the premises, however with 7 days notice they could seize assets to cover their losses.

The committee will not argue for the membership to put their hands in their pockets as they believe it will only prolong the inevitable. As no prospective candidate for Commodore has made themselves known, they don't believe they will have currently a team in place with the time and energy to turn the club around.

The Flag Officers felt they had no choice but to go to the court for a Notice of Intention to Appoint an Administrator, which they undertook on Monday morning.

With this in place, a degree of protection is placed over the Club's assets and the administrator is able to start negotiations with interested parties and advise the membership on whether there is any reasonable prospect of a deal or if winding up the club is their best option. The options will be presented at the EGM on the 28th.

The club intend to hold the EGM as planned on Sunday. It will be an opportunity for members to hear from the Flag Officers what has happened over the past few months and for the intended Administrator to answer questions as best they can.

Given the current uncertainty, members are urged to remove their boats from the site at their earliest opportunity.

The Bewl Valley Sailing Club Main Committee are deeply disappointed and saddened by this outcome and would like to thank all the Flag Officers, Main Committee Members, volunteers and staff that have worked so hard to improve the club's fortunes.

The loss of BVSC will leave a big hole in many people's lives and sailing in the South East of England will be missing an excellent club and sailing venue.

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