To provide an update on the performance of LeisureSK Ltd against the approved Business Plan for 2021/22.
The Director for Growth and Culture presented the report on behalf of the Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Leisure.
LeisureSK Ltd commenced the management of the Council’s leisure facilities in January 2021. In line with Government guidelines, due to the covid-19 Pandemic leisure centres remained closed until a gradual reopening, which commenced in late March 2021. Restrictions were fully lifted in July 2021.
Whilst the leisure centres remained closed and activities were limited the Directors of LeisureSK Ltd ensured that appropriate steps were taken to mitigate the impact. This included the appropriate use of the staff furlough scheme and renting out the Table Tennis Centre at Grantham Meres Leisure Centre, as one of the main vaccination sites for Lincolnshire.
A Director of Leisure SK Ltd noted that the Company was set up after the end of the Council’s contract with 1Life had ended. Arranging a contract with a new provider would have been a great risk within the leisure industry, during the current climate. Employees were transferred to LeisureSK Ltd and a business plan was formed. Following a positive start, the Company would operate as long as was required.
The non-executive Director was introduced to the Committee, Mr Monkhouse, and he described experience over a 38 year career within the leisure industry. He was looking forward to taking a key role leading on health and safety and provide a ‘check and challenge’ to operational processes.
The Director was asked how the current position at LeisureSK Ltd compared with the national position. LeisureSK Ltd information was not immediately available but the national position was confirmed that before the pandemic each leisure customer generated 34p, however currently each customer costed an average of £6.65. Cost recovery pre-pandemic was 112% but was now approximately 41%.
It was estimated that Leisure Centres were currently receiving 70% participation when compared to pre-covid levels. This was considered to be largely due to running costs, exacerbated by a rise in cleaning responsibilities. An officer advised that through LeisureSK Ltd, the Council would have support from local healthcare services to promote health and wellbeing to the residents of the District.
The strengths of LeisureSK Ltd were considered to be industry knowledge and experience, a stronger identity was being developed to ensure the facilities were being used to their greatest potential.
· A Member asked what made LeisureSK Ltd stand out against competitors.
Members were advised that the onus had previously been on social care and acute primary health, an integrated care system had been developed which stressed the importance of health and wellbeing. This was hoped to be operating by April 2022 with LeisureSK Ltd, widening the scope and supporting health and fitness of residents through physical activity, having invested in parks and open spaces too.
· Clarification was requested on the impact of the closure of Deepings Leisure Centre, on the five-year Business Plan.
Refurbishment options for Deepings Leisure Centre were being considered and would be brought before scrutiny, in due course. The impact of the site’s temporary closure on the business plan was currently being considered. User panels had been set up for each leisure centre, but the process was delayed due to covid restrictions.
The Business Plan had also considered Leisure Improvement Feasibility works that looked at potential required investment to maintain Bourne, Stamford and Grantham leisure centres.
· What substantial works were required to keep all sites operational and what was being done to prevent possible future enforced closure.
The Committee were advised that the impact of the temporary closure of Deepings leisure Centre was being monitored. It was emphasised that LeisureSK Ltd was responsible for the upkeep of the internal structure and facilities of the buildings
· Clarity was requested on the essential maintenance to structure of the buildings and requested what thew the Council’s responsibility was for this and where the liability became that of LeisureSK Ltd.
It was confirmed by an officer that the Council was responsible for any major structural costs.
· A request was made for figures which indicated the financial position for LeisureSK Ltd.
· It was noted that to align the accounting year of LeisureSK Ltd with the Council, there would be a 15 month financial reporting year for LeisureSK Ltd.
· The use of Sports Leisure Consultancy (SLC) was queried and if a procurement process had been followed.
LeisureSK Ltd adhered to financial regulations that mirrored the Council’s and public procurement rules were followed. SLC had provided a great deal of knowledge and experience whilst supporting LeisureSK Ltd.
· Clarification was sought as to how user capacity for using services was monitored.
The Committee were informed that every customer had a leisure card that they used each visit. The card registered the services the customer accessed and the number of visits made. It was emphasised that the analysis was based on every user and not just those paying a monthly membership fee. Assessing the data collected reflected that there was a shortage of available space during the evenings.
· What had been done to share the maintenance fee more fairly for a playing field at the Deepings.
A meeting had been arranged with the Deepings School, whom benefitted from its use, to discuss the appropriate sharing of cost. It was clarified that the Deepings Rugby Club no longer held the lease and was to pay per usage. Further clarification was provided on the revised Business Plan, it would incorporate the refurbishment options for the Deepings Leisure Centre. It was anticipated that those amendments would be brought to the Companies Committee in January 2022.
· A question was asked as to how LeisureSK Ltd was involved in the Council’s aim to reduce carbon emissions.
As the company was responsible for paying for utilities, they would therefore be involved in any efficiency measures the Council were to put in in place.
· A question was asked as to what percentage of people who used Deeping Leisure Centre, had recently used Bourne or Stamford facilities. A concern was raised by Members that travelling to other facilities may not be possible for everyone.
An officer confirmed that the figures were available and would be shared with Members.
· Members requested that the hard work was acknowledged into renting out the Table Tennis Centre at Grantham Meres as a vaccination centre and in securing a payment of £320,000 through the leisure recovery fund.
That details of the usage of all facilities, following the closure of the Deepings Leisure Centre, be communicated to Members.
That the current progress of LeisureSK Ltd be noted against the approved Business Plan for 2021/22.