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THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 30TH NOVEMBER, 2015

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT): 3RD NOVEMBER, 2015

 

"560                LEISURE MANAGEMENT CONTRACT (DEH) -

 

The report highlighted the background to the Council's Leisure Management Contract which had been awarded to Parkwood Community Leisure and had commenced on 1st October, 2012 for a period of 10 years with a possibility of a further five year extension. Following agreement by Cabinet in 2014, the contract was subsequently sub-contracted to Legacy Leisure, an independent leisure trust. Appendix A to the report provided the Year 3 Annual Report from Legacy Leisure which followed the format of the monitoring check list that had been agreed previously and which highlighted parts of the contract and the specifications that Legacy Leisure were required to report on. The information concentrated on the key requirements of the contract documentation and was broken down into four areas:

  • financial
  • property
  • leisure services
  • employment.

The annual report also referred to a number of successes achieved during the year including a significant increase in Leisure Centre usage of 13.05%, the return of the 5 star food hygiene rating and good levels of customer satisfaction that had been noted in the annual survey. The various appendices referred to in the report were available for Members if required, as it was a substantial document its content had not been reproduced but the Operational Manager for the Vale's Leisure Services section had brought it to the meeting for Committee perusal if required.

 

Following a Committee recommendation earlier in the year that a group of up to three Members undertake reviews of the Leisure Centres, Councillor Mrs. A. Moore (Chairman), A.G. Bennett and Mrs. P. Drake undertook a review of the Leisure Centres of Barry and Penarth on 14th October, 2015 together with the Cabinet Member for Visible and Leisure Services. Councillor Bennett then proceeded to present the Group's findings to the Committee for consideration. The general points that were raised for Barry centred around disabled parking outside the front of the building, with the question was there enough and how could it be improved. There were also three squash courts at the centre which were all underused. In referring to school swimming, it was considered that this could be improved. With regard to the positive aspects of the visit it was noted that customer feedback forms were visible and that the G.P. Exercise Referral Scheme was well attended with participants being more than complimentary about the support they received following which Councillor Bennett requested whether the scheme could be further expanded. The dry changing rooms Members had considered were in reasonably good repair and stated fixtures and fittings although not outstanding were of an acceptable level. However, the wet changing rooms for both male and female participants at Barry were referred to as poor. It was noted that the cost of a complete replacement including redesign would be in the region of between £650,000 - £750,000 and limited funds were available. A further query was raised in relation to the storage facilities on the ground floor as to whether these could be converted to provide beauty or health treatments.

 

In referring to the Penarth Leisure Centre, the Steam Room and Health Spa were considered to be very good and again with reference to the squash court, it was suggested whether a change of use needed to be considered. The changing rooms were reported reasonable, although the hand dryers in the male changing room it was felt required attention. Penarth it was said was the only facility that was fully disabled persons compliant although it was noted that the facilities were much underused. Car parking at Penarth did not seem as big an issue as Barry although there was some concern raised regarding the nearby Sports Village in Cardiff which might have an impact on footfall in the future.

 

In conclusion, Councillor Bennett stated that both centres generally had tea, coffee and light refreshment areas and vending machines, both which had merchandising areas with what appeared to be appropriate items e.g. swimming goggles etc., staff in both venues appeared to be friendly and answered questions freely, pointing out the problems and possible solutions.

 

It was noted that further visits to the remaining leisure centres throughout the Vale would be made before Christmas 2015 with a further report back to the Scrutiny Committee in the New Year.

 

Present at the meeting to present the Year 3 Annual Report were representatives from Legacy Leisure namely the Regional Director for Legacy Leisure Colleen Tulmelty and the Contract Manager, Rob Oaten.

 

Mr. Oaten commenced by advising that in his view the partnership between the Vale and Legacy Leisure was a good and productive partnership advising that with regard to core prices Legacy Leisure had the ability under the contract to increase its core prices by 1.3%, having notified the client of any changes by 30th November, in any contract year. The core prices for the following year's contract were included in the appendice document to the report.

 

In referring to utilities and the carbon footprint, he advised that Legacy Leisure had in place an Environmental Management System which provided a practical framework for managing, evaluating and continually improving the environmental performance. The system had been created to ensure that the business protected the environment, complied with environment regulations, improved resource efficiency and managed business risk. In referring to training he advised that Legacy Leisure 'believes that investment in members of staff is an investment in the future of the company' although much of the training would be 'on the job' training, they would expect employees to attend regular training sessions. There was a mixture of health and safety and good practice training that was expected and examples were given of training courses such as Customer Care, First Aid and monthly staff training. The company had a strong commitment to training and continuous professional development (CPD) and encouraged its staff to further their studies and take positive approaches to national vocational qualifications. A copy of the training schedule was also included with all the appendices that were available at the meeting for Members' perusal. Health and safety was also a priority for the organisation as well as customer care. A number of customer surveys and customer feedback cards were provided and he also welcomed the visits and the feedback of the Councillors who undertook the recent review of the centres advising that this was an opportunity for healthy feedback.

 

Mr. Oaten also stated that Legacy Leisure complied with the Welsh Language Act and were always looking to encourage more visitors to the centres. There had been a significant increase in usage since Parkwood/Legacy Leisure had been responsible for the service and the aim was to continue to improve on those statistics. From the annual survey undertaken 32.4% of customers had been either satisfied or very satisfied with the service while only 10.9% had felt dissatisfied. Section 5 of the Annual Report provided details of an increase in participation of 13.5%.

 

Following the presentation of both reports a question and answer session ensued.

 

 

Question

Response

Are the Leisure Centres closed every Bank Holiday?

The contract specification allowed the contractor to close on Bank Holidays, but Legacy Leisure had taken the view that because they were selling a membership the customers expected them to be open. Although the service was provided under reduced hours, and was not open on Christmas Day.

Do all staff receive an induction?

Yes, staff received a Corporate Induction and a site specific induction. Other relevant training included education care with regard to children.

Why did the company chose not to have information displayed in toilets and changing rooms which could show the last time they were checked/cleaned?

The company had considered a number of ways of cleanliness was checked but felt that the tick box style although useful in the first instance sometimes lent itself to complacency.

Although aware of the concerns regarding the changing rooms a Member asked Legacy Leisure for their views.

Following customer feedback it appeared that the state of the changing rooms did deter customers with the suggestion mentioned that a similar provision to that provided by the Sports Village in Cardiff for a changing village be better provision. The Regional Director also stated that there was clear evidence that the quality of the facilities did have an impact and that since the fire at Penarth the team were working on enticing customers back.

What cleaning and monitoring is undertaken?

Cleansing was reviewed on a regular basis and inspected regularly throughout the day, although this would depend on usage.

It is in the common interest to increase participation, what are your plans to do so?

A promotions and branding team had been established a new appointment by Legacy Leisure had been made for an Operations Manager with experience in sales and marketing experience. In referring to specific targets Mr. Oaten advised there were no specific targets across the board but there were for example in relation to swimming.

Is equality for women reflected in your everyday operations?

There are senior managers who are female and as a company it monitored quality targets in terms of gender. There were three Regional Directors, one of whom was female. With regard to BME (ethnic minorities) this has not been successful but it was the company's intention to proactively encourage ethnic minorities in the future. The company's aim was to however, provide a more pro-active approach to their recruiting programme.

How significant is car parking to you and do you have any proposals?

The car parking issues were diverse throughout the Vale with Barry in the main being the most problematic. Cowbridge was also difficult as a number of commuters used the car park to park their vehicles and commute into Cardiff. Lack of car parking was also one of the reasons noted for people leaving the membership of Barry and for customers not using the Barry Leisure Centre between the hours of 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. To try to address this matter, Mr. Oaten suggested that the provision of a short stay car park, say for up to two hours, during the week would be a suggestion as on weekends there were no problems. Another alternative would be to introduce a charge which could be waived if you used the leisure centre.

This has been the first year that the service has been operated by the new sub-contractor Legacy Leisure, what differences, if any, has this change meant to the service and staff?

Little change other than the Legacy element provided a focus on community engagement and the community benefit now afforded with Legacy Leisure being a charitable organisation.

In relation to the squash courts, what do you feel would be the answer to this issue?

There were opportunities to convert the squash courts into different usage which would be similar to those undertaken around the country. However, Mr. Oaten felt that it would be important to keep at least one squash court as it was a market trend at the moment that a significant number of people were not playing squash, but that this could change. Further uses could also be considered and he referred to exploring enhancing the G.P. referral scheme.

Do you feel you are on track to improve participation?

In terms of opportunities available there have been some proposals which are being considered e.g. the back room at the Penarth centre could be used as a gym space. Further consideration can be given to the use of the foyer areas but in view of the fact that trends change on a regular basis it was important for the organisation to be flexible in whatever decisions it made. The development at Colcot could also offer considerable potential in the future in view of the development of the new sports pitches. Competition was always a threat but this can also have its pros as well as its cons.

 

Councillor John, with permission to speak advised that the Council was currently re-viewing the issue of car parking within the Vale and was fully aware of the issues affecting leisure centres. He too referred to the new five-aside 3G pitches to be developed at Colcot which he considered would be a great asset. He also took the opportunity to advise Members that if a decision had not been made some time ago to work in partnership with Parkwood, he was convinced some of the centres would have had to have been closed.

 

The Operational Manager advised that some of the challenges faced by Parkwood / Legacy were outside their control e.g. car parking and the conditions of the changing rooms but that good working relationships existed between Parkwood and the Vale. He too was encouraged by the excellent Exercise GP Referral Scheme in operation which he wished to see further improved.

 

A Member also referred to the health element and the need for leisure centres to continue to see the importance of assisting in improving public health. The Regional Director in response advised that Parkwood Leisure/Legacy Leisure as an organisation have a health core group with a number of initiatives in place. Her role was also to draw together best practice from all its services and to share that practice across the whole of the organisation in order to see how health offer can be extended.

 

Following consideration of the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)                T H A T the Regional Director and Contract Manager be thanked for their presentation and for the frank and open discussions regarding the service.

 

(2)                T H A T Cabinet attention be drawn to the comments and challenges identified by the Scrutiny Committee at the meeting which are outside the control and responsibility of Legacy Leisure with specific reference to car parking and the condition of the changing rooms at some leisure centres.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)                In view of scrutiny's role to continually monitor the Leisure Management Partnership.

 

(2)                To apprise Cabinet of the issues and the challenges for future consideration."

Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment): 3rd November, 2015

References/Cabinet

 

15-11-30 - Ref from EE - Leisure Management Contract

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