Rochford District Council to discuss proposals for future leisure service provision

Date: 
Friday, November 20, 2020

The future of Rochford District Council’s contract with its leisure services provider, Fusion Lifestyle, will be discussed by Councillors next month.

The proposals, to be considered by the Council’s Executive on the 2nd of December, seek to extend the contract for three years (taking it to 31st March 2025).

Prior to the pandemic, the Council had planned to tender for a new leisure contract to commence 1 April 2022, in accordance with its Leisure & Cultural Services Strategy.

However, the impact of COVID-19 required the Council to reconsider its approach, since procuring a new contract in a commercially uncertain environment would be unlikely to achieve value for money or incentivise innovation or investment by a service provider.

The proposal, to be considered by Councillors, would enable Fusion to continue to manage Clements Hall Leisure Centre, in Hawkwell, and Rayleigh Leisure Centre, providing services which support the health and wellbeing of our residents.

If approved, the Mill Arts & Events Centre, in Rayleigh would remain closed until the site is redeveloped. The building forms part of the Asset Delivery Programme with the site set to be re-developed as an exciting new community centre, with space retained for Council use, the site would also deliver residential use. If approved Castle Hall in Rayleigh, would also remain closed.

Prior to the pandemic, the Mill Arts & Events Centre and Castle Hall ran at significant losses. In recent months, there has been a lack of demand due to COVID 19 restrictions. Therefore, the cost to operate these buildings in the current climate is unsustainable.

The Freight House in Rochford, which is also managed by Fusion, would remain closed (as per the recommendation in the report to the Executive in August), since this is one of the buildings proposed for early redevelopment as a new community and civic space within the Council’s Asset Delivery Programme.

The Council will continue to work with and support groups and organisations that are currently, or were previously, using Freight House, The Mill Arts & Events Centre or Castle Hall and who would like assistance to identify alternative local facilities where possible.

Rochford District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community, Cllr Mike Webb, said: “As a Council, we value our leisure facilities and the important role they play in the health and wellbeing of our residents, and this is always foremost in our minds as we consider future contracts, while also carefully reviewing the impact that COVID-19 has had on the leisure industry.

“Despite the effects of the pandemic, we are fortunate in that the Freight House and the Mill Arts & Events Centre site are already due for redevelopment in the future as part of our Asset Delivery Programme, which we anticipate will be completed by 2023, providing exciting community facilities for our residents in the years ahead.”