Decision details

Leisure Services Update

Decision Maker: Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cabinet

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


To review recent management arrangements and activities in the provision of leisure services for the City of Gloucester.


97.1    The Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Andrew Lewis, introduced the Leisure Services Update Report which had been requested by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee following a previous update.


97.2    Councillor Hilton asked how much outstanding debt the former Aspire Leisure Trust owed the Council. Councillor Lewis confirmed that he would make follow up enquiries and that this information would be provided to Overview and Scrutiny Committee Members in due course,


97.3    Councillor Pullen asked for clarification as to what was meant by the LTS acronym. The Head of Culture clarified that this referred to Learn to Swim.


97.4    Councillor Pullen referred to the current membership figure which stood at 450, compared to a pre-closure membership of 1,032. He asked how soon it was likely to be before membership reached pre-closure figures. Councillor Lewis advised Members that the situation was improving, and that the new provider was also attracting users from outside of Gloucester.


97.5    In response to a further query from Councillor Pullen regarding membership figures, Councillor Lewis reiterated that he was encouraged by the latest figures and he felt it was positive that membership had reached 450 just 9 weeks following the closure of Aspire.


97.6    Councillor Pullen expressed the view that free car parking in Asda for Freedom Leisure customers and staff was a good idea, and queried whether the use of the car park came at a cost to the Council. Councillor Lewis confirmed that it did not, and that Asda had become open to the idea due to the potential for increased footfall from Leisure service customers in store.


97.7    Councillor Castle referred to the narrative at paragraph 13 in the report, and asked what the Council’s plans for investment were should it not succeed in its bid to Sport England for capital investment funding from the Swimming Pool Support Fund. The Head of Culture advised that a decision from Sport England was imminent, however the Council would still invest capital works on GL1 and Oxstalls in the event that it was not successful, and this would take place during the lifetime of the next permanent Leisure Services contract.


97.8    In response to a further query from Councillor Castle as to how much the Council planned to invest, the Head of Culture confirmed that the Council planned on putting forward £8m of capital investment over the course of a 10-15 year contract.


97.9    Councillor Castle referred to the successful PR figure of 71% in the Freedom Leisure performance report. She asked how this figure had been calculated. Councillor Lewis agreed to seek clarification from Freedom Leisure and it was agreed that this information would be circulated to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in due course.


97.10  In response to a query from Councillor Wilson regarding which facilities had been reopened since the closure of Aspire Leisure, Councillor Lewis advised that all facilities had been reopened apart from the GL1 sauna.


97.11  In response to a question from Councillor Zaman regarding discounts for local leisure service users in Barton and Tredworth, the Head of Culture advised that the operator would be offering discounts for certain groups, but not for specific areas of the city.


97.12  Councillor Zaman asked whether leisure vacancies could be advertised within the Council’s workforce. Councillor Lewis confirmed that vacancies were open to anyone to apply. The Head of Culture added that one of the conditions the Council considered when assessing tender applications was social value, and if an operator demonstrated a willingness to employ local people, it would increase their chances of being awarded the tender.


97.13  Councillor A. Chambers asked how many former Aspire staff had been re-employed by Freedom Leisure. Councillor Lewis advised that 86 out of 100 staff had been re-employed, with some former staff finding alternative employment.


          RESOLVED – That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee NOTE the update.


Publication date: 14/02/2024

Date of decision: 05/02/2024

Decided at meeting: 05/02/2024 - Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Accompanying Documents: