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Specification for outsourcing running of our leisure centres

View the meeting live on YouTube as Derbyshire Dales councillors debate the specification for the service provider that will manage as a package the district’s four leisure centres in a year’s time.

A 6pm meeting on Thursday 22 June - to be broadcast live on the District Council’s YouTube channel - will hear that many elements of the current operation will be protected in an outsourcing contract recommended to run for 10 years with a five year extension option.

The specification at the centre of a procurement process that is due to begin soon will seek to protect areas such as current concessionary and discount schemes, opening hours, school swimming lessons, pitch bookings at Wirksworth and the use of the leisure centres for elections, Ashbourne Shrovetide and civil emergencies.

The document also sets out recommended pricing policies and the position of existing club and user group bookings in the contract, which is targeted to start on 1 June next year.

The report [PDF 1.1MB] – endorsed last week by the District Council’s Community & Environment Committee – now goes to a full meeting of the Council follows several months of consultation with leisure centre users, including user group meetings and an online survey, plus staff feedback and Member workshops.

In December last year councillors voted unanimously to start the process of outsourcing the running of the district’s four leisure centres in a move that will see the District Council retain ownership of the buildings.

Continuing pressure to find budget savings had prompted the District Council to review its leisure service, including the four leisure centres.

Although efficiency savings of more than £110,000 had already been achieved as part of the review process, councillors agreed the best way of safeguarding the future of this discretionary service was to outsource the running of the four centres.

Ashbourne Leisure Centre, Bakewell Swimming Pool, Arc Leisure Matlock and Wirksworth Leisure Centre currently are subsidised by local Council Tax payers to the tune of around £1.3-million a year.

A Working Group established in December and led by the District Council’s Corporate Director Paul Wilson has been meeting fortnightly to review advice from consultants as well as discussing matters relating to leisure and support staff job security, TUPE requirements, transfer of pensions, public consultation, health and safety requirements and the drafting of the contract.

The group has set out a timeline identifying key points in the process, such as staff, public and union consultation, discussions with partners, deadlines and collation of information, key committee report dates, workshops and milestones in preparing and evaluating the contract.

This week's report, to be presented by Head of Community Development Ashley Watts, will stress that outsourcing the management of the four centres is designed to further improve the leisure and wellbeing offering in the Derbyshire Dales, as well as helping to reduce the financial pressure.

The new service provider will be required to demonstrate how it is contributing towards the District Council’s wider ambitions on an annual basis and monthly performance review meetings will take place with the council's contract manager.

As well as reporting back on operational performance, such as cleaning standards, customer satisfaction, and health and safety management, the operator will be
required to provide feedback on more strategic issues such as engaging with rural communities, increasing participation and reducing inactivity in adults and supporting disadvantaged communities and under-represented groups.

4 leisure centres montage 510px

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Discounted Illuminations tickets on sale now

Discounted online tickets are on sale now for our showpiece autumn event Matlock Bath Illuminations.

This year adults pay £5.50 on Saturdays and £4.50 on Sundays if they buy online in advance - that's 50p cheaper than last year. Accompanied under 16s continue to be free, with concessions available for students and OAPs.

People who buy on the night will pay £7.50 on Saturdays and £6.50 on Sundays - £2 more expensive than the online prices.

Online bookers will be fast-tracked into the Derwent Gardens - and the online incentive prices will also apply to visitors who take the train to Matlock Bath during this year's season, which will run every weekend from Saturday 9 September to Saturday 28 October.

The District Council has acted on feedback from a customer survey conducted after last year's eight-week spectacular. Every Saturday in 2017 will include a fireworks finale, with numbers in Derwent Gardens restricted to a maximum of 6,000 - down from 8,000 in previous years - to improve crowd movement and enjoyment for visitors.

To enhance the reputation of Sundays as a "family night", the event will start and finish earlier, running from 6-8pm to take account of the fact that younger visitors have school the following morning.

Other improvements for the 2017 Illuminations - the 120th - include better signage to the park and ride service, more stewards and more enforcement officers to police pedlars on the streets of Matlock Bath.

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What's on in the Derbyshire Dales

A lively programme of events runs throughout the year in the Derbyshire Dales - including well dressings, festivals, farmers' markets and our fabulous visitor attractions.

Events in the Dales

Visiting the Dales

More about accommodation, attractions, towns & villages and outdoor activities in the Dales

Rover Pass

If you're visiting the beautiful Derbyshire Dales, you can buy online a three-day or seven-day Rover pass entitling you to unlimited use of our car parks across the district.

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