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

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.

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