The Scrutiny Support Officer explained the purpose of the agenda item which was to receive an update on the previous scrutiny topic of Alternative Delivery Model (ADM) for Sport and Leisure Services, and give consideration to any further action required in respect of this topic.
The topic was first considered in 2014 and details of the Panels conclusions and recommendations were contained in the submitted report. The Panels recommendations were subsequently considered and approved by the Councils Executive on 9 December 2014 and the related Action Plan/Service Response was attached at Appendix 1 to the submitted report.
The Sports Development Manager was in attendance to present an update on the current position with regard to the ADM for Sport and Leisure Services.
Leisure Services was subsidised by the Council by approximately £2 million per annum (£1.2 million building costs and £0.8 million central support) compared to the previous figure of approximately £4-£5 million five years ago. The proposal to move Leisure Services to a Trust was intended to negate the need for the Council to provide any subsidy at all. The Councils stock had improved vastly with the £23 million investment of the Sports Village. The Sports Village had generated more income, particularly through gym membership, which was now around 4000 members across the Service.
A number of external organisations had initially expressed an interest in providing Leisure Services for the Council and three had been invited to make more detailed submissions from which the Council had arrived at a preferred bidder. These external organisations had charitable status which meant that the majority of savings for a Trust would be made through VAT and rate relief which, unlike the Council, they were not subject to.
It was highlighted that in the neighbouring authorities of Stockton and Redcar, Leisure Services were run by Trusts and they had worked well. National organisations could also produce economies of scale for items such as purchasing, marketing, payroll functions and human resources, enabling them to make further savings. With regard to pricing, it was confirmed that whilst the cost of gym memberships might increase, a 50% reduction would still be offered to people in receipt of benefits. It was anticipated that the new Trust would maintain the current pricing structure for at least twelve months.
Whilst current Leisure Services employees would transfer to the new Trust via TUPE conditions, it was highlighted that their jobs might not be the same. A new Trust would be likely to have different staffing structures. Employees terms and conditions would be transferred and protected unless they applied for a different job.
In response to a question regarding whether there would be a stakeholder board to manage the Trust, it was clarified that a Board would be established. The preferred bidder had suggested that a Board would be a Project Liaison Board that would include three Elected Members and one Council Officer.
The Sports Village had worked with nearby Tennis World to endeavour to make it complementary to the Sports Village. Although Tennis World was a private members club, they did offer the facility to pay and play. Discussions were currently taking place with the management at Tennis World, who were keen to develop the game of Paddle Tennis in order to generate additional income. It was noted that the provision of Paddle Tennis would require the development of six new courts on the Tennis World site. The Lawn Tennis Association were also involved in discussions to develop tennis generally and it was highlighted that the Tennis World site was in need of refurbishment. Collaboration with Tennis World and the Lawn Tennis Association might also present an opportunity to drawn down external funding to help improve other tennis facilities in the town including those at Albert Park and Pallister Park.
In relation to activities for young people to help address health inequalities in the town, there had recently been a discussion between representatives from Public Health, Active Middlesbrough, Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation and the Tees Valley Community Foundation regarding options to deliver a more comprehensive package of all sports in primary schools across the region using Tees Valley Community funding.
From a Middlesbrough Council perspective, resources were no longer available for doing as much sports development in schools as previously. However, the Council was working very closely with a number of sports clubs based at the Sports Village and other venues and an agreement was in place whereby they were able to use the facilities at a subsidised rate in exchange for offering opportunities for people to join their clubs. The sports clubs included roller hockey, futsal, judo, swimming and athletics.
In partnership with Public Health, a Go Ride Coach would shortly be based at the Sports Village to promote the Velodrome circuit and deliver an accreditation scheme to use the velodrome. Some track specific bikes would be purchased at a cost of £15,000 and discussions were ongoing with local retailers regarding a maintenance scheme for them. Again, the sport would be promoted to schools to encourage take up.
A new Sports Development Plan had been written for the next financial year and beyond which sought to address better engagement with schools. It was noted that there was a huge amount of talent in Middlesbrough, including national champions, who needed to be supported to access facilities and coaching. The plan was to deliver a co-ordinate and comprehensive approach to offering sport to all.
In response to a query regarding traffic issues at the Sports Village, it was acknowledged that it was very busy and parking was an issue. The Sports Village was working to spread the parking out and some additional parking had been made available beyond the 3G pitches and at the Velodrome.
From a town point of view, sport was in an incredibly strong position, with fantastic facilities and clubs. The foundations were in place to ensure that everyone who wanted to play sport could become involved.
It was confirmed that the proposals for the ADM would be presented to the Executive on 1 December 2015.
AGREED that the information provided was received and noted.