Agenda item

PFI Contract Update

To receive a presentation from Parkwood Leisure.


Mr Paul Young, General Manager of Parkwood Leisure presented Members with an update on the Private Funding Initiative (PFI) contract.  Parkwood Leisure operate the leisure facilities at two sites within Breckland; Dereham Leisure Centre and Breckland Leisure Centre & Waterworld in Thetford.


Usage levels had increased by 3.6% with the main activity areas being the swimming pools, swimming lessons, fitness and use of the sports hall.  The partnership continued to be an excellent working relationship between the operator and Breckland.


A number of events had taken place at the leisure centres which had helped to develop community awareness of the services provided.  This included attending the Dereham Carnival, and being part of the Dereham 5k event. 


Both sites had over 1000 memberships for both swimmers and the expressions membership.  A 52-week swimming programme had been developed which had increased the direct debit intake.


A Carer membership had been introduced as well as an improved GP referral programme which aimed to bring benefit to the community.  In addition grandparents were entitled to a free swim when they attended with their grandchildren at Dereham Leisure Centre, which had been warmly welcomed by users.  Training had also been delivered to staff providing better awareness of dementia and Dereham Leisure Centre had recently become an approved centre for being dementia friendly.


The marketing plan for 2016 had been agreed and delivered on time.  The centre was keen on develop on the benefits of e-marketing.


The Camp Adventure holiday programme held in 2016 had increased to 519 attendees and had been the most successfully attended to date.  In addition links had been established with Thetford Rugby Club where courses linked to community groups had been successful.  A new sport, Pickleball, had been trialled in June with a good uptake Health and Safety was a priority with Parkwood Leisure and currently five members of staff were fully qualified to ensure policies of health and safety were adhered to.  Both sites had also recently passed the quality assurance assessments.


A gym extension had recently taken place within Dereham for the use of a new multifunctional area and plans were in place to develop the gym at the Thetford site.


The Dereham Leisure Centre will be celebrating the 10 year anniversary since the opening of the new complex, in May 2017 and more details would be shared with Members in due course.


The Chairman thanked Mr Young for his detailed presentation.


Councillor Richmond asked who was responsible for the maintenance of both sites and how much profit needed to be generated to make it work.  The Communities Manager responded that the building maintenance was the responsibility of the PFI Contractor, Breckland Leisure Limited and that Mr Young was responsible for the operation of the buildings only.


Councillor Jermy referred to the capacity figures and asked to what extent it had increased in unique visitors, or those that were frequent visitors.  He also asked if there was a queue for equipment of swimming lanes busy this could be off putting and how Parkwood managed this.  Mr Young responded by affirming that the customer journey had already improved by the changes to the gym within Dereham, and this would also have the similar benefit in Thetford.  With regard to swimming it was a balancing act between maximising usage and customer experience.


Councillor Jermy went on to ask how Parkwood were gauging customer feedback as the customer feedback meetings were poorly communicated.  Mr Young said a new sales manager was in post and had already picked up the issues of corporate membership.  He also hoped to have focus groups with organisations that used the facilities to receive feedback.


The Chairman asked how Parkwood could be certain that leaflet drops reached rural villages.  Mr Young said it could not be guaranteed, but he would continue to look at E-marketing as an efficient method of promoting the facilities.


The Chairman went on to ask if Parkwood would consider providing transport from remote villages for communities to use the facilities.  Mr Young said it could be considered if there was a demonstrable demand shown for this and that it was commercially viable.  In addition conversations with partner groups such as Age UK were underway to see how Parkwood could assist with the leisure experience.


Councillor Brame was pleased to see how well Parkwood Leisure was performing, and asked how the promotion of concessions were publicised.  Mr Young said work was being undertaken to consider the target market area and how promotion of concessions could be improved.  The Communities Manager confirmed he would work with Parkwood Leisure to ensure that this was extensively promoted.


Councillor Wilkinson suggested that Parkwood Leisure worked with the Council’s Communication team to advertise information.  Mr Young agreed that it was a good suggestion and would work with the Council on that.


The Chairman asked if Parkwood produced a newsletter and if so could Members receive a copy to publicise the facilities within their wards.  Mr Young believed it was published quarterly and would ensure Members received a copy.


Councillor Matthews asked how carers would be aware that they were entitled to discounted membership.  The Communities Manager confirmed there was a set of criteria and would clarify this with Members.


Councillor Stasiak asked how Parkwood liaised with villages or Towns within the district that did not have access to the gym or swimming pools.  Mr Young said he had a detailed map which showed where Members of the leisure centres were coming from and the distances people were travelling.


Councillor Bishop asked if the leisure centres were involved in the ‘swim the channel’ campaign which raised money for local charities. Mr Young would look into this initiative further.


The Chairman asked to review the promotional campaign in three months and the Communities Manager would respond to this.