SLC were commissioned to provide consultancy support to undertake a strategic review of the future provision of leisure in the City.
The Council wished to challenge its traditional leisure offer and explore radical and different ideas for how it might deliver leisure provision in Westminster. It required a review of the Council’s work to date, identify opportunities and prepare detailed options and recommendations for the Council’s current leisure facilities and estate.
SLC also provided commentary on residents’, workers’ and commuters’ needs in the light of COVID-19 and to analyse the role WCC can play in meeting needs through place-based provision, services and partnerships.
In partnership with the Council, SLC is sought to develop a range of innovative and radical new models for leisure service provision while ensuring available and affordable services for Westminster’s communities delivered through a range of providers and partners.
Key areas SLC explored in response to the brief within a focused study are as follows:
- Explore the balance of provision across the city which is currently skewed to the north / north-west can be addressed
- Consider usage of facilities by different groups within our communities and identify where communities are not accessing services and why
- Consider WCC’s current pricing policy, existing concessions and make recommendations
- Re-define what activities are delivered and take this into account in recommending the number and type of facilities needed
- Examine private sector provision in Westminster and other local authority provision in close proximity, explore options for use (including costs) of these facilities by Westminster residents and make practical recommendations
- Explore the feasibility of income generating opportunities
- Consider the Council’s digital agenda
- Make recommendations for the Council’s leisure provision within a mixed economy.
SLC identified alternative approaches to explore in operating the Council’s leisure facilities including a split FM option linked to a mixed economy approach.
SLC also identified key considerations linked to any future procurement exercise.
A key element of SLC’s advice was to ensure that the firm community outreach platform and systems support developed by the Councils Physical Activity and Leisure Service was amplified to address deep inequalities in the City.
SLC also supported the Council in challenging traditional facility mixes of planned future developments and explored alternative approaches for the upcoming Chelsea Barracks development.
The Council is now considering its options.
The Council commissioned SLC to carry out a review of the Council’s leisure service following the Covid-19 pandemic. Like most local authorities the Council’s leisure contract became increasingly challenging throughout 2020 and 2021 and therefore there was a need to review the future of leisure.
SLC showed great professionalism, expertise and energy right from the start – engaging with members, senior management and officers and gaining knowledge on the Council’s corporate objectives and strategies as well the service. SLC regularly updated key stakeholders on their work and showed great adaptability and flexibility throughout.
Following a number of consultations and workshops SLC eventually produced an in depth, evidence-based report, putting forward innovative options for the future of the Council’s leisure service – which was both strategic and practical, which has set a strong foundation for the Council to build upon.
Rikin Taylor, Head of Corporate Finance
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