ACTIVE COMMUNITIES CONTRACT
In May 2019 SLC was appointed by Stratford-on-Avon District Council (SDC) to provide consultancy support for the procurement of its Active Communities Contract. The existing leisure contract included four leisure facilities which pre-COVID had a turnover of £4 million, ended in June 2021.
The service has been managed by an external operator for over 25 years. SLC provided advice on management options, including the Local Authority Trading model which concluded that re-tendering the contract was the best value solution for SDC.
SLC facilitated a workshop with senior officers and Members to make key decisions on the procurement strategy including:
- The scope of services which were expanded to include an Active Communities outreach function
- Strategic objectives for the services and KPIs
- Risk allocation including asset management, utilities, staffing/pensions
- Leisure investment
- Contract length and procurement procedure.
This process enabled Members to understand the procurement approach and help shape the ultimate outcome.
DEVELOPING THE PROCUREMENT DOCUMENTATION
SLC developed a specification framework based on the new Sport England Leisure Services Delivery Guidance, bespoking it to align with the Council’s Active Communities Strategy and to include a range of KPIs designed to monitor the leisure operator’s contribution to the Strategy.
The Council wanted to integrate other services into the existing contract including an additional leisure centre and Active Communities outreach function and SLC provided advice on how to include these within the specification.
The Council was open to investing in leisure where there was a demonstrable return. In order to include this in the procurement bidders were invited to draw from an investment fund of up to £6 million provided they could meet the capital repayments and improve the overall revenue position for the Council. This approach was built into the evaluation criteria and resulted in a number of innovative, non-traditional approaches to engaging currently inactive target groups.
ADDRESSING THE IMPACT OF COVID-19
The procurement was launched in January 2020 just before the COVID crisis took hold. SLC recognised that the COVID crisis would not only affect operators’ capacity to bid for new contracts but crucially, would impact negatively upon their financial submission in the early months of the contract. It was recognised that the new contract commencing in July 2021 would be in a period of recovery and operators would be unable to take on the commercial risk of a new leisure contract for the first year due to uncertainty regarding market conditions.
SLC therefore worked with the Council to devise an alternative approach to the tender price submission which was based on the first year of the contract being on an open book basis and the price evaluation being based on years 2 to 10 of the contract.
Final tenders for the contract were received in January 2021 and the Council awarded the contract to Everyone Active whose bid exceeded the Council’s affordability and quality requirements. Adapting the procurement to address the impact of COVID-19 was a key contributor to the success of the procurement.
The partnership new will also see a total investment in excess of £3 million over the next 12-15 months across the leisure centres, which includes a new group cycling studio with atmospheric lighting, new gym with the latest Technogym equipment and enhanced fitness offering at The Greig Leisure Centre and a complete poolside refurbishment with enhanced swimming experience including sensory lighting and new changing facilities at Studley Leisure Centre.
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