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Council begins leisure procurement process

The process of finding a new partner to run Fenland's four leisure centres has got underway, with a formal tender process being launched this week.

New Vision Fitness Logo

Fenland District Council is inviting tenders from potential leisure centre operators to manage its New Vision Fitness centres in Wisbech, March, Whittlesey and Chatteris.

It is seeking a highly-experienced operator that can demonstrate a shared commitment to Council priorities, maintain and develop a quality, sustainable leisure service and reveal exciting plans for innovation and investment in facilities.

The procurement process will run for 16 weeks until March 26, 2018, when submitted tenders will be evaluated. If the bids are suitable, a preferred bidder will be selected - with a view to a 10-year contract starting in November 2018.

Councillor Michelle Tanfield, the Council's Portfolio Holder for Leisure, said: "I would like to make it absolutely clear our leisure centres are not for sale. With the Council's current financial position in mind, we need to look at the most efficient way of running them. The tenders need to match our expectations in terms of quality and sustainability and provide the best service for our customers, to be a viable option.

"This process is also about maximising the benefits that our substantial investment into the leisure facilities could bring, and ensuring residents can continue to enjoy a quality leisure service for many years to come.

"Our priority is to continue to provide a service which is accessible to all, and to engage with local communities to help more people to be active and live a healthier lifestyle, supporting improved health and wellbeing across the whole of Fenland."

Cllr Tanfield said the Council is working with the Council's Staff Side team, including Unison representatives, to ensure that the leisure centre team is kept informed of the process and what it means for them, with regular meetings to give team members the opportunity to ask any questions.

The decision to seek a new partner to manage the centres was taken during the Council's comprehensive spending review (CSR), which launched in late 2015 due to significant Government budget cuts and increased demand upon services.

The outsourcing of management is an approach already taken by many other local authorities across the UK, and is a proven business model.

A business case was prepared in 2016, with the development of a comprehensive tender pack and legal documents being carried out this year.

The procurement opportunity will be advertised in accordance with EU procurement directives and published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) as well as on other key procurement websites.

Article added: December 14, 2017