On 9 October 2019, representatives from eight Local Authorities from across England participated in an engaging day of learning and knowledge sharing on Optimising your Leisure Procurement’.

This Think Tank seminar, facilitated by SLC Directors David Rushton and Toby Kingsbury, provided a platform to share best practice approaches to procuring successful leisure partnerships which deliver both social and financial value. Legal advisers, Womble Bond Dickinson LLP, were also on hand to provide specific legal advice and insight from recent procurements.

The following key themes were explored, based on delegates’ needs:

  • Ensuring a competitive procurement process when you have a well-established, strong incumbent Operator
  • Deciding on the split of repair and maintenance responsibilities for a new contract
  • Considering how sports development or arts services might fit into a new contract
  • Asset management risks – how to ensure assets are protected
  • Investing in facilities – which facilities, when and how much?
  • Needing to be “procurement ready”
  • Accessibility and performance measures of facilities in rural areas
  • Procurement timescales and routes
  • Issues regarding sharing of data
  • Mobilisation from the procurement phase into contract management and review.

SLC Directors facilitated discussion with delegates and shared their expertise and experience of leisure procurement with sector colleagues. The event tackled challenging issues such as developing strategic priorities for the service, deciding on the scope of services, exploring investment opportunities, understanding lifecycle costs and risks, assessing management models and ensuring an approach is affordable.

SLC presented case studies from recent procurements undertaken by North Kesteven District Council, Slough Borough Council and Watford Borough Council. Chris Fennell, from Watford Borough Council provided valuable insight and experience from a client perspective. The case studies demonstrated how the right approach to leisure procurement can lead to the delivery of wider health and social outcomes, outstanding financial results and significantly enhanced services.

In the afternoon, SLC Directors facilitated small group ‘surgeries’ for delegates to discuss their own service challenges.

Feedback from the day was overwhelmingly positive, with an overall satisfaction rating of 96% and comments, such as:

“A really productive seminar”

“The balance between instruction and participation is just right”

“Really good session – best conference / seminar I have been to for a long time”

“Good balance of information and knowledge sharing”

“It was a very interesting and helpful day”

 “An excellent venue!”

SLC has been running industry leading Think Tanks since its inception in 2009. They offer an opportunity to meet with colleagues from other authorities, organisations and experts involved in the transformation of leisure services in a challenging financial climate.

Our next Think Tank will focus on Optimising your leisure procurement. The Think Tank will be held on Wednesday 7th October at Loughborough University.

This Think Tank will be drawing on the soon to be published Leisure Services Delivery Guidance from Sport England, for which SLC has been the lead author.

Further details are available on request. For more information call us on 01444 459927 or email info@slc.uk.com.