Review of leisure services
We are undertaking a review of the leisure services provided at Bracknell Leisure Centre, Coral Reef and Downshire Golf Complex due to severe financial pressures on the council.
Bracknell Forest Council needs to save £23.5m over the next 3 years and is reviewing how it provides all its services and this includes leisure services. This could result in the facilities being managed by a third party operator from March 2018.
What's happened so far
A public meeting, held on 5 January, to brief customers on this review helped draw out the key points that customers wanted to understand. We listened to residents’ views and concerns; we are very keen to ensure our current high standards will be maintained regardless of who is operating the facilities.
The council’s Executive approved a market testing procurement plan in February, which detailed our strategy for finding a suitable operator. Any third party operator would have to meet a strenuous set of conditions to operate the 3 centres with key performance indicators and levels of services enshrined in a contract.
We have completed the initial selection stage of the procurement process and shortlisted the bidders that we feel we could potentially work with to deliver our leisure service over the next 10 years. All bidders demonstrated the ability to provide a high quality service.
The shortlisted operators were invited to tender in April and asked to submit formal bids by July after which they will then be robustly evaluated. After the evaluation process has been completed we will be in a position to provide some more information.
The key points are:
- the council will remain fully accountable for the services delivered
- the intention is for customers to receive the same level of access and quality of service that they receive now, or better
- any changes will not affect how customers benefit from the investment in Coral Reef
- if agreed, a contract will be in place to make sure that any incoming operator delivers the level of service that the council requires and customers expect and deserve
- the council anticipates customers will see improvements and further investments in the facilities in the coming years, which under the council would probably not be funded
- vulnerable groups and key clubs and activities will be protected with an aim to increase participation and healthy lifestyles for our residents
- staff will transfer to the new operator under existing terms and conditions if management of the service is outsourced
- customers will be kept informed of what’s happening as the review progresses
- the council is not selling any of the leisure centres
- the council will not lose control of pricing but will consider any proposed price changes by any operator, not to be unreasonably withheld
- the council will not be controlling the operator; they will have considerable freedom to run the centres in the way that they wish providing that the required standards and specification are met but major structural changes will require council approval