SLC were commissioned by North Herts Council in February 2023 to support the procurement of a new leisure operating contract for its portfolio of five leisure facilities. SLC had recently supported the Council in developing a new Active North Herts Strategy. The new Strategy has established a fresh approach to the future delivery of its sport, leisure and physical activity services by the Council and its stakeholder partners.

The procurement of a new contract provided an exciting opportunity to embed the objectives of the Active North Herts Strategy into the operation of the leisure facilities. The new contract is designed to deliver more impactful health and wellbeing outcomes across the District. It focuses on broader active wellbeing, delivered through targeted work within less active communities, and supported by strong partnership working, recognising the role of the service as a critical element within the wider system.

SLC provided the Council with end-to-end support and guidance throughout the procurement process, through delivery of the following staged workstreams.

Pre-Procurement Support:

SLC worked with the Council’s Project Board to develop a robust procurement strategy. This set out the approach to the procurement and established a suitable balance between meeting the Council’s requirements whilst ensuring the opportunity was attractive to the market.

Key to this was the inclusion of proposed Council-funded investment options which were to be tested through the procurement process. This would enable the Council to assess the projected return on investment and overall business case for these options.

SLC developed all of the tender documents including the services specification (including the requirement for a new Active Communities Programme of outreach interventions) and Invitation to Tender, and supported legal colleagues to develop the new Contract in accordance with the Sport England template.

Procurement Process

SLC supported the Council throughout each stage of the procurement process, helping with responses to clarification questions, evaluating bids, facilitating bidder meetings and providing analysis and advice on financial submissions.

Project Outcome

Following the comprehensive tender process, a new 10-year Leisure and Active Communities Contract, which commences on 1 April 2024, was awarded. The process has been a resounding success. As well as delivering a robust new contract with a broader remit to help tackle local health inequalities, it has secured the business case for c. £1M of Council investment and has resulted in a significantly improved financial position. Despite broadening the scope of services to include a new Active Communities Programme of place-based interventions, the new arrangements will improve the management fee by c. £6M over the term of the 10-year contract.


Working with SLC on our procurement has been a positive experience from start to finish. Their professional expertise and market knowledge has been invaluable in ensuring we went out to tender with a high-quality specification and followed a robust procurement process. The complexity of procuring a leisure contract should not be underestimated and using SLC was a very wise investment, as we are all delighted with the end result.

Sarah Kingsley, Service Director – Place, North Herts Council