The financial information in this version of the report has been updated based upon a review of the Rubicon Leisure submission by Officers in Leisure and Cultural Services.
The Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources presented a report outlining proposals for the change of operator at the Arrow Valley Countryside Centre. Members were advised that the operation of the service at the countryside centre had been outsourced to an external company in 2011 with a ten year lease. During the course of their tenure concerns had been raised by Members, Officers and customers about a range of matters relating to the building and the consistency of the service. There had also been limited performance data provided to the Council over the past few years, despite this being a requirement in the contractual agreement. The current leaseholders had indicated to the Council that they would be withdrawing from the contract by March 2019, which was before the end of the lease. This provided the council with an opportunity to review future arrangements. The initial business case for Rubicon Leisure had noted that the local authority might seek to manage additional Council owned facilities once their leases expired and it was considered expedient to ask Rubicon Leisure to take over management of the Arrow Valley Countryside Centre. The Council was not required to undertake a tendering process in order to finalise this arrangement.
The Council was aiming to ensure that the Arrow Valley Countryside Centre in future operated in a manner that would meet the Council’s strategic purpose ‘provide good things to do, see and visit’. Rubicon Leisure had provided projected income figures for the Arrow Valley Countryside Centre. As a precaution these figures were low as it had been difficult to estimate potential income generation due to the lack of available data from the existing leaseholder. Should Members agree to transfer management of the Arrow Valley Countryside Centre the staff would be TUPE transferred over the Rubicon Leisure.
Members discussed the report and proposals for the future use of the Arrow Valley Countryside Centre and noted the following points during consideration of the matter:
· The need to improve the services available to customers at the Arrow Valley Countryside Centre.
· The alterations made by the current contractor to the countryside centre and the extent to which this had been made at a cost to the Council.
· The potential to recoup any costs from the current leaseholder. Members were advised that it was important to review the terms of the contract as well as to consider the potential court costs that might arise should the Council seek to recoup costs from the current leaseholders.
· The financial costs to the Council involved in making sure the building was in a good condition should it not prove possible to recoup the funding from the current leaseholder.
· The need to ensure that the office space, including the mezzanine level in the countryside centre remained available for community use. Members commented that they were not willing to permit Rubicon Leisure to use the centre as office space.