Report of the Cabinet Member for Growth.
The Cabinet Member for Growth introduced her exempt report entitled ‘Enhancing Leisure Opportunities for Everyone’. The committee was asked to consider short-term arrangements for the management of leisure services in advance of a long term plan to procure a new contract arrangement guided by a Procurement Strategy. Members were asked if they had any questions arising from the report or the appended ‘Leisure Contract - Review of Management Options’ document.
The committee asked for further information regarding the background of the existing contract. The Cabinet Member for Growth explained that the current contract with 1life would expire in January 2021. Members discussed advantages of recommending the option to extend this contract and stressed the importance of ensuring that an adequate level of service continue, should the recommendation be approved. Officers confirmed that a contract monitoring framework would be put into place and that any potential for this contract framework to be made more robust would be investigated going forward. It was felt that an extension to the current contract with 1life would provide sufficient time for feasibility work to be undertaken and a Procurement Strategy to be developed, which would involve consultancy expertise from a procurement specialist.
One Member expressed concern that consideration of subcontracting work led to an increase in the frequency of confidential papers being considered at meetings regarding matters of public interest. The committee member also requested that the Grantham Meres Leisure Centre consultation process be accessible for residents to engage with and that due weight be given to the responses of residents local to the leisure centre. The Cabinet Member for Growth gave reassurance that the consultation process was intended to engage all regional users of the leisure centre, including those residing in the locality.
The committee asked if Members would be involved in defining the consultation process for the Grantham Meres Leisure Centre. It was highlighted that there would need to be an awareness of limitations in the way questions were asked, in order to balance residents’ expectations with deliverability. A meeting had been arranged for all Grantham Councillors on 17 December 2019, but it was confirmed that the draft consultation document could be shared with all Councillors, if desired.
Ø The Grantham Meres draft consultation document to be circulated to all Councillors
Members asked for further explanation as to the scope of the potential options for the Grantham Meres. It was explained that all options contained within the report were being considered and that a decision would only be made subject to consultation and a business case to ensure financial viability.
During discussion, Members referred to the Deepings Leisure Centre. It was felt that there was a lack of clarity as to ownership of the facility and the facilities provided were considered to be inadequate. It was confirmed that the arrangements for this leisure centre would cease under the new provision and that local Councillors would be consulted during decision making processes for the future of the Deepings Leisure Centre, as would be the case for any of the district leisure centres. One of the Bourne Ward Councillors thanked the Cabinet Member for consulting with local Members regarding the Bourne Leisure Centre.
Members noted the information within the report that referred to the challenges of the medium term financial outlook and asked how the Council would fund the leisure management options moving forward. Officers confirmed that a scheme of borrowing was being looked into, and it would be important for the Council to be able to generate income from any long-term management option.
Officers were asked if the long-term leisure management procurement exercise could be achieved within the timescales of the proposed extended contract. It was explained that two years was the optimum timeframe for this type of procurement exercise, so extending the existing contract to April 2022 would allow for the process to be achieved comfortably. The Cabinet Member for Growth offered to update the committee periodically.
Ø The committee to be provided with a bi-annual verbal update on the Leisure Management Contract and procurement process
· It is recommended that Cabinet approves an extension to the Council’s current leisure management contract arrangement for a term of 15 months with no reduction in the service level provided, the extension to end on the 3rd April 2022
· It is recommended that Cabinet approve the proposal to procure a new contract arrangement
· It is recommended to Cabinet that a Procurement Strategy, to determine the optimum length of contract and ideal route to market, should be developed