In 2015 SLC was commissioned to produce a Leisure Strategy on the behalf of the Council to inform the forthcoming procurement of its three leisure facilities. The strategy identified significant gaps in the reach of the current service and as a result the Council decided to re-introduce a sport and physical outreach service as part of the procurement. SLC also worked with the Council to develop priority outcomes for the services and a suite of performance indicators that measure the effectiveness of the service going forward. SLC engaged Councillors through an Issues Debate which resulted in full political support for the Leisure Strategy and supporting Procurement Strategy.
Developing the vision
SLC were commissioned to provide procurement support and to find a partner that can deliver:
- A new sport and physical outreach service
- A significant increase in physical activity participation in the district
- An improved revenue position for the Council
With a clear Procurement Strategy, SLC was able to design a bespoke procurement process in order to find the most suitable partner for the Council. SLC was also able to deliver this in a challenging timeframe, taking just nine months to complete the process.
Four strong bids were received and evaluated and the appointed bidder, Freedom Leisure is investing £1.8 million in sport and physical activity outreach services during the life of the contract. They are also investing in a number of facility improvements including re-introducing the flume at Splash Pool, Rushden.
The procurement will result in a substantially improved financial position for the Council. Currently the service costs circa £250,000 per annum including capital and the new operator will pay the Council £100,000 per year to run the contract. This will yield savings of over £3.5 million over the life of the contract which commenced in April 2017.
We were very pleased with the support we had from SLC in developing our new Healthy and Active Lifestyles Strategy, and delighted at the outcome of the procurement process. Following an Issues Debate at Council, where Members set out their aspirations, including identifying the need for an outreach service for the outlying parts of our predominantly rural district, SLC guided the Working Party that was set up to procure the contract. We now have a clearer set of outcomes and performance measures than ever before and the prospect of a better service than ever before, and the deal we have struck with the new operator will save us £ millions over the life of the contract, which is beyond our most optimistic expectations.
David Oliver, Chief Executive
East Northamptonshire Council (April 2017)
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