Posted by: westlancashirerecord | January 18, 2017

Who Still Shares The Pain Of Leisure Payments To Serco?

Just council tax payers, still paying circa £1,000,000 per annum. And, to the eternal shame of this borough council, it will carry on for even longer than we expected, another three years beyond the current contract. While there will be a financial viability appraisal of replacement leisure facilities, council is simply concluding arrangements to enable an extension to what exists of the Leisure Services Agreement, which is a commitment to pay £1,000,000 per annum to Serco, the self styled “Superb provider of Public Services”. We council tax payers will pay double for some of our services, like emptying our green bins, while Serco will “Make Serco & proud of it come alive”. Serco, the “Corporate Spider” as it is widely known sercooctopus.

A reminder of the West Lancashire Leisure Trust six years ago. On 25 January 2011 Cllr Paul Cotterill wrote to the West Lancashire Leisure Trust
Dear Trustee
I am writing to you in advance of your vital meeting on 25th January 2011 to ask you to fulfil your commitment to the residents of West Lancashire. Although I have no access to your board papers, I understand from Council officers that as part of your agenda you will be considering whether or not the Trust should voluntarily accept a reduction in the subsidy paid to it by the Council, without a reduction in service provision levels. This agenda item is consequent to the Council’s Procurement Practice Note 12, under which senior managers of the Council are required to approach their main contractors with a view to securing reductions in contract price, and report back by the end of January 2011.

As you know, the central government grant to West Lancashire Borough Council is being cut savagely in 2011-12, with further reduction in the three years beyond that. I ask that the Trust accept reductions in its own contract value (without a concomitant reduction in service), at least in line with the scale of this grant reduction, and that in so doing the Trust, and indirectly Serco Ltd and its shareholders, ‘share the pain’ being meted out on public services by the government.

Such a step would in any event be broadly in line with Serco’s own cost-reduction strategy, reflected in a letter from its own Finance Director to its own sub-contractors requiring, under threat of contract loss, a reduction in contract price offered. As a Community Leisure Trust, your main commitment is to the community of West Lancashire, not to your partners Serco Leisure Operating Ltd. I hope this will remain at the forefront of your deliberations during your board meeting. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss this matter in advance of the meeting. Yours faithfully Cllr Cotterill

On 26 January 2011 Cllr Cotterill wrote “What I have been told is that no decision was made by the Trustees last night, and that the matter will be considered further at the next board meeting on March 8th. This is on a matter which was first raised with the board in the autumn, and I am unclear as to why a decision could not be taken last night. The consequence of a failure to take a decision, however, is clear enough. The council’s budget will be set on 23rd February, and those setting the budget will need to assume that, as under the present contract, they need to fork out in the order of a million pounds to the Trust in continuing subsidy. This means that items of expenditure that might have been included in the budget, had a voluntary reduction been announced, will not be included in that budget”. And it never was!

Well before all this, in a “Marry In Haste, Repent At Leisure” deal, marry in haste was exactly what the borough did in 2004 johnnelson5-001 [click to read] when it contracted with “Serco Leisure” a “Division of Serco Ltd” for an authority to proceed into paying a “dowry” of £610,000 that was time critical “within a week”. It was akin to the modern adverts for buying a sofa “Sale of all Sales must end soon” sofaworks.

Up to date, and on 10 January 2017 Councillor Gagen introduced the report of the Director of Leisure and Wellbeing which sought approval for the engagement of specialist consultants to undertake a financial viability appraisal and options for financing for new leisure provision in Skelmersdale and Ormskirk, to enter into discussion with North Meols Parish Council in relation to the future of Banks Leisure Centre and to initiate discussions with the current leisure provider in regard to an extension to the current leisure services agreement. [Serco] serco2016 [click to read about “A superb provider of Public Services”]

In reaching the decision below, Cabinet considered the details as set out in the report before it and accepted the reasons contained therein.

RESOLVED; That the Director of Leisure and Wellbeing and the Borough Treasurer, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Leisure & Human Resources and the Portfolio Holder for Finance be authorised to:- i) Engage specialist consultants to undertake a financial viability appraisal and options for replacement leisure facilities in Skelmersdale and Ormskirk, in accordance with paragraph 9.1 of the report. ii) Enter in to discussions with North Meols Parish Council regarding options for the management of Banks Leisure Centre. iii) To agree and conclude all necessary arrangements with the current leisure provider to enable an extension to the Leisure Services Agreement in accordance with paragraph 9.4 of the report, to include entering into any leases, amendments to agreements, and the giving of any notifications/notices which may be required to effect any extension.

Meanwhile these pictures below show the “Serco & Proud of it” standards of golf and foot golf course creativity of the same leisure provider, left unfinished after the biggest and longest landfill operation ever seen on a West Lancashire Borough Council leisure facility. beacon14-002 beacon14-003 beacon14-008 beacon14-012 beacon14-014 beacon14-015 Is this council really proud of it too?


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