At the stakeholder event on 18 July 2014 it was confirmed that the following leisure facilities were currently in scope: the Sports Village, Rainbow Centre, Neptune Centre, Southlands Centre and Golf Centre.
The draft evaluation criteria was attached at Appendix One to the submitted report. The criteria was reviewed at the workshop against the Councils strategic outcome objectives, and also by the Change Programme Transformation Board. The revised criteria, which included the comments from both groups was also attached to the submitted report.
The Panel was requested to consider the revised criteria and suggest any further changes or additions to the option evaluation criteria. The Option Appraisal would evaluate the following management options:
Re-configuration of In-House provision.
Establishment of a Local Trust to provide the service.
Procurement of the services from an established Trust.
Once completed, the Option Appraisal would be shared for validation by the Leisure Management Project Group and the recommended option would then be considered by the Change Programme Transformation Board and the Executive.
The Chair of the Panel had met with Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture from Stockton Borough Council. The Councillor had talked at length about how Stocktons services had been transformed by Tees Active Leisure (TAL), which was an independent leisure trust.
TAL was a specifically tailored Trust set up in 2004, in the form of an Industrial and Provident Society. The Board of TAL was made up of sixteen representatives from the sport sector, business, Members of Stockton Council, the education sector, local residents, staff representative and a customer nomination.
TAL had more than delivered against the original aims and there had been large increases in attendance at local leisure centres and swimming pools. Leisure services had been improved and a favourable local and regional reputation had been established. The excellent partnership between the Council and TAL had provided the opportunity for the local authority to enhance the provision of sports and leisure services to the residents of Stockton and had contributed to Council priorities, especially health.
Financial benefits had included savings on National Non Domestic Rates (NNDR) and Value Added Tax (VAT), due to the Trust having charitable status. The savings, estimated at £280,000, had been allocated into a development fund for service and facility improvement. Trust status also enabled the ability to attract grant funding from bodies that would not normally donate to local government and the ability to borrow money in a way that was not possible for a Council.
Examples of improvements made through the TAL included Billingham Forum (a 1960s leisure complex that had been totally renovated and modernised), a brand new Skate Park at Preston Park and climbing wall at the Tees Barrage.
Members discussed the draft evaluation criteria and concern was raised about item six which related to the protection of staffing terms and conditions. Staff were critical to the delivery of the leisure centres and all organisations would have to invest in the staff. It was stated that there would be protection as TUPE would apply to any transfer of service. However, it was noted that TUPE only applied on the first day of transfer and after that terms and conditions could be changed.
It was highlighted that there did not appear to have been any issues with the transfer of staff at either Stockton or Redcar and Cleveland Councils. At Redcar and Cleveland all the staff had kept their substantive posts and there had not been any redundancies. The Trust had also established an apprenticeship programme which had led to full time appointments. The Development Activities Manager confirmed that Middlesbrough Council currently ran an apprenticeship programme within sport and leisure and full time posts had been offered where appropriate.
In relation to the Councils stated aim of reducing the current £3.4 million subsidy for sport and leisure services, Panel Members requested details of the anticipated savings under each of the proposed models. Whilst some work had been carried out on the options appraisal unfortunately details of the projected savings were not yet available. The expectation would be to reduce the subsidy by as much as possible. In terms of savings at Redcar and Cleveland, the SLM contract had resulted in savings of £400,000 per year in running the leisure centres, which was a 33% saving on the previous annual operating costs.
It was explained that the specification for the contract would need to be robust and deliver what the Council wanted in terms of service. The Council would also need to monitor the Contract carefully to ensure it was adhered to. It was noted that there was Elected Member representation on the TAL Board at Stockton.
The Development Activities Manager invited Panel Members to visit the Rainbow Centre which had recently been refurbished. The library had been integrated, the gym had been modernised and extended, a hairdressers had been incorporated on site and the lease for the cafe was out for tender. As well as offering facilities that could compete with the commercial sector it was also important to consider health intervention, as there was also a cost to not doing that type of work.
It was confirmed that the next meeting of the Change Programme Transformation Board was scheduled for 17 September 2014 when the final Option Appraisal would be presented.
AGREED as follows:
1. that the information provided was received and noted.
2. the Panels comments would be forwarded to the Leisure Management Project Group for consideration prior to the final Option Appraisal being presented to the Change Programme Transformation Board on 17 September 2014.