To consider the attached report. (Representatives from Everyone Active, the Council’s leisure management contractor) will be attending the meeting to support the presentation of this item and answer questions).
Contact Officer: Paul Marston-Weston (01296) 585116
The Committee received a report on the key outcome and outputs achieved by the Leisure Management Contract in 2017/18 and which also provided key performance information and an overview of the key suggested actions for 2018/19. The Cabinet Member for Civic Amenities attended the meeting and responded to Members’ questions as part of the discussions.
Representatives from Everyone Active, who were responsible for the leisure management contract for Aqua Vale Swim and Fitness Centre and at the Swan Pool and Leisure Centre attended the meeting to support the presentation to Members and to answer questions. The current contract had commenced on 1 April 2013 for 10 years with a mutual option to extend for a further 5 years. This report looked at Year 5 of the contract.
Members were informed that the Leisure Management Contract realised betterment to AVDC of circa £620,000 per annum, £120,000 saving was achieved by no management fee being paid to the leisure centre operator as per the previous contract and £500,000 income was generated by EA paying the Council for the opportunity to manage the centres on AVDC’s behalf. The management fee payable to the Council for the period 2017/18 was £522,503 as it rose in line with CPI annual increases.
AVDC provided a monitoring role as part of the contract arrangements and conducted monthly monitoring by holding Contract performance meetings and inspections. This was stepped up if there were areas of concern or an increase in complaints. The regular performance meetings examined a range of performance indicators which included information similar to that contained within Appendix A to the Committee report. The information provided a baseline for future reports and for measuring contract outcomes and outputs.
The council had undertaken an extensive £2.7m modernisation project of Swan Pool and Leisure Centre between February 2015 and February 2016 which had delivered new and improved facilities and increased levels of customer satisfaction and usage. The last major modernisation project at Aqua Vale Swimming and Fitness Centre had been completed in 2012 at a cost of £6.7m.
Concerns had been raised in late 2016 over the quality of cleanliness at Aqua Vale and additional meetings and monitoring visits had been stepped up. EA had attended scrutiny meetings in April and November 2017 to respond to Members’ concerns and detailed proposed actions to improve matters. Since the last meeting, the standards of cleanliness at Aqua Vale have continued to improve greatly and much had been done by EA to address Members’ concerns.
The Cabinet Member for Civic Amenities had met with EA managers and toured the Aqua Vale on a number of occasions to see first hand the conditions and improvements made. Most recently, members of the scrutiny committee had been invited to visit Aqua Vale in June to see the centre and standards.
Currently, just under £100,000 of S106 funding was being spent to modernise and upgrade the pool side toilets, private showers and accessible changing along with new artificial planting to improve the condition and look of the centre. It is hoped that a further phase of improvements would take place later in the year to continue to increase customer satisfaction and increase usage. A list of improvements undertaken last year and planned for this financial year was detailed Appendix A in sections 8 and 9.
Members were informed that a new General Manager had started at Aqua Vale in May 2018, who was keen to continue to improve the quality of cleaning and customer service that had been apparent under the previous General Manager.
Cleanliness and cleaning standards remained a focus for the Cabinet Member and the Client Manager. Any complaints were followed up and discussed with the EA Contract Manager. The cleaning contract had been taken back in-house by EA last year and they now had complete control of the staff, processes and performance. There had been occasions when standards had fallen short but EA had been quick to resolve these
Whilst not excessive, there were instances of vandalism and wilful damage from time to time. Notably, each year, for the past three years, the front elevation glazing had been deliberately smashed causing approximately £10,000 of uninsured damage. The culprit had been identified and charged but no compensation had been possible. Despite owner’s security and CCTV, there was an ongoing issue with bicycle thefts from the racks located at the front of the building. Thames Valley Police have been informed and consulted on this problem.
A number of the Committee had visited Aqua Vale Swim and Fitness Centre recently and were complimentary of the facility.
Members sought additional information and were informed:-
(i) that EA had good relationships with both the secondary school and the Royal Latin School in Buckingham. It was possible that the Royal Latin School would be putting in their own facilities that would reduce their use of some fo the facilities at the Swan Pool. This situation was being monitored and would be taken into account for the future.
(ii) that creative options had been explored to improve the car parking situation including on the refunding of the car parking charge to customers. One proposal had been considered and rejected by the Council as it would have reduced the income received by AVDC by £20,000 p.a. It would be made more obvious to customers that they could get the car parking refund at either the entrance or in the café, which could reduce queuing at the entrance.
(iii) that an email had been sent to BCC in relation to a membership deal for staff.
(iv) on the efforts that were being made to reduce bicycle thefts from the cycle racks and the annual instances of vandalism. There had also been some issues with travellers at Aqua Vale which had required police attendance. These issues had been resolved quickly.
(v) it was explained that the clientele were slightly different at Swan Pool (community based activities) compared to Aqua Vale (casual users). It was explained that various levels of staff received different types of training relevant to their jobs. This included training to deal with difficult customers.
(vi) that while there were only a small number of complaints at the Centres, these were still taken very seriously. EA held monthly meetings with AVDC’s Contract Performance, Funding and Partnerships Development Manager and the Cabinet Member to discuss individual complaints in detail. A breakdown of complaints into different types and whether they had been upheld would be included with future reporting to the Committee.
(vii) that the leisure centres management contract was working well across both centres. The continued work to modernise and upgrade the pool side toilets, private showers and accessible changing along with new artificial planting was also improving the condition and look of Aqua Vale.
(1) That the representatives from EA be thanked for attending the meeting and for the positive progress that continued to be made in managing the Council’s leisure centres.
(2) That EA be invited to provide a further update report to the scrutiny committee in 12 months time regarding the Leisure Centres management contract.