Agenda item

Leisure PFI Update (Agenda Item 6)

Report by the Sports Development Officer.


The PFI Monitoring Officer presented the report, which provided an update and overview of the PFI leisure contract and the performance of the Dereham Leisure Centre and Breckland Leisure Centre and Waterworld at Thetford since the start of the new leisure contract in April 2007.


Overall usage of the Centres had increased, particularly in the case of Dereham, with increases standing at 27.01% at Dereham and 6.54% at Thetford.


The figures for swimming use were especially pleasing, with an overall increase of 14.73% at Dereham and 24.66% at Thetford.


The increased swimming use was particularly dramatic, as nationally figures for swimming were in decline.  The results in Breckland were attributed to the high quality swimming lesson programme and the Aquazone branding offered by the contractor, Parkwood Leisure.


Equally successful results were reported on the sports development plan and the camp adventure programme, which had proved popular and was gradually increasing.  More especially, the rural holiday sports programme delivered in partnership with the Council had been hugely successful, with over 160 sessions to date, which had achieved 100% satisfaction ratings and a number of sessions reaching capacity in terms of attendances.  Consequently, more sessions were being planned to facilitate the increased numbers.


The early problems with the tiles in the learner pool at the Dereham Leisure Centre had been resolved and no further problems had occurred.  Only a couple of other minor construction defects remained to be resolved by the constructor at the Dereham Centre within the warranty period. Downtimes at the Centre in Thetford had been minimal, with only two hours unavailability of part of the pools in this period due to a minor gas leak.


Although outside the remit of their contract, Parkwood had undertaken a refit of the kitchen and café area at the Thetford Centre to enhance the facility.


As part of their contractual requirements in terms of operating standards, Parkwood Leisure were in the process of acquiring the QUEST accreditation awarded to leisure centres and covering areas such as health and safety procedures, customer care, sports development, staffing requirements and training and cleaning standards.  Part of the award process included a mystery customer visit as well as staff interviews and assessment of policies and procedures.  Parkwood were due to be assessed for this accreditation around the middle of April.  In order to maintain the standard, they would be reassessed on a regular basis.


In answer to questions, it was explained that all target groups in the development plan of the contract had been met and baseline information had now been gathered in respect of Breckland’s own requirements on target groups.  Sport England targets were used in the improvement plan and baseline data was now being gathered for monitoring of those targets.  Provided the contractor could show it was striving towards meeting its targets and meeting all the aims of the contract, there was no financial penalty.


So far as the rural transport scheme provided last summer was concerned, it was reported that, disappointingly, there had been no take up of this facility by the public.  However, it was planned to repeat the scheme again this year. 


A member asked whether there was any possibility of introducing a transport scheme between Attleborough and either of the Leisure Centres.  It was explained that Attleborough and Swaffham were not within the PFI contract but the idea could be looked at.


The rural holiday scheme for this Easter period included a trial in Attleborough and, if it proved successful, it was proposed to add it into the future rural programme.


It was noted that Parkwood was due to make its annual report at the end of April, which would give a breakdown of all memberships, usage and trends.  It was also proposed to vary the reporting timetable to the Panel to coincide with the contractor’s end of year report.  The next monitoring report would, therefore, be made to the Panel at its July meeting and thereafter on a six-monthly basis.


         RESOLVED that the Panel notes the report and the successful results in usage, which were against the national trend but also notes the poor take-up on last year’s rural bus provision scheme.

Supporting documents: