Options Appraisal of Leisure and Culture Management Arrangements
The purpose of this Report is to provide the Overview and Scrutiny Committee with the opportunity to consider the outcomes of the Leisure and Culture Management Options Appraisal. The Committee may provide feedback for Cabinet and Council to consider, as part of the decision for the future operating models to be used for the Leisure and Cultural Services.
That the Committee:
a) Considers the outcomes of the Leisure and Culture Management Option Appraisal;
b) Provides feedback to be proposed to Cabinet and Council as part of the decision making process.
The Officer presented the Options Appraisal and summarised the proposal
The Committee noted the Options Appraisal of Leisure and Cultural Management Arrangements and its recommendations
The Committee noted that the “locally focussed” reference applied to the management approach being closer to that of the Council, rather than describing the cultural approach of the museum or its displays.
The Committee commented that the ‘Leisure Only’ option (i.e. without the Museums) was not offered, although the ‘Culture Only’ option had subsequently been soft market tested. The officer stated that the details of a ‘Leisure Only’ option was not available when the initial options appraisal had been developed.
The Committee commented that the manner in which success was achieved should be considered in any decision making as the report did not currently identify that the success of the museum had been widely attributed to a talented, dynamic curator.
The Committee commented that care should be taken with Council owned assets/buildings, to ensure these were not given away if an external contractor was chosen.
The Committee commented that there is provision for an extension to the current contract and that a robust negotiation process would be required to ensure a good settlement is delivered if this option is taken.
The Committee commented that when the current contract was agreed the Council’s leisure centres were the principle facilities in Cirencester, but that there are now a number of similar facilities and it was important that the Council’s facilities should remain a preferred option. The officer agreed that the leisure market was now more challenging particularly in Cirencester, but that the swimming pool remained a valued community facility and public areas and changing facilities a the centre were also being maintained and refreshed. The officer also stated that ensuring the attractiveness of dual use facilities was more difficult, however there were currently good relationships with the management of each of the dual use facilities.
The Committee welcomed the decision to undertake a second evaluation with criteria that gave a higher consideration to the costs involved in delivering each option, rather than just considering whether the option would deliver against the Council’s identified outcomes.
The Committee noted that the second evaluation indicated that the cost of delivering the services was significantly less if an External Contractor provided them, compared to either the In House, or the LATC/NPDO option.
The Committee commented that the drafting of the service contract was key to ensuring that the External Contractor clearly understood the expectations and service standards of the Council and that they were able to deliver them.
The Committee commented that the Council understood the need to share risk with an External Contractor, as this was now commonly done, however it did not want to be left to pick up the pieces if the contract requirements were not met and the service failed. The drafting of the final service contract would be key to avoiding this.
RESOLVED: The committee considered the outcomes of the Leisure and Culture Management Option Appraisal and provided feedback to Cabinet and Council as part of the decision making process.