Windsor Leisure Centre
- Meeting of Culture and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel - expired May 2019, Tuesday, 19th February, 2019 6.30 pm (Item 164.)
To discuss the offer at the leisure centre.
The Panel were addressed by a Windsor Leisure Centre (WLC) member. Mrs Driver informed that the WLC was always a positive and friendly establishment and one of the good things done was when the gym upstairs was extended and a spin studio that provided views over the river.
Four years ago Legacy Leisure were awarded the contract to run the borough leisure centres and although many had reservations she did not as it was expected that there would be investment. She was disappointed that she was wrong. They undertook many bad plans without consultation in an attempt to improve the WLC including moving the spin centre from room to room.
Mrs Driver reported that over the years she was aware that there had been many complaints and Facebook comments about the WLC. Local councillors had been informed yet the centre continued to decline. Mrs Driver had circulated by email many examples of complaints to Panel Members prior to the meeting.
Mrs Driver informed that reports that the issues contained within her email had been resolved were not true and that the problems continued. She said that Legacy were letting the council down, they were not delivering and adhering to their mission statement. The WLC reputation was at stake and fees were increasing whilst running costs were being reduced. She asked that the Panel took action to prevent continued failings.
The Head of Communities, Enforcement and Partnerships informed the Panel that he was aware of the concerns raised by Mrs Driver and that she was in contact with WLC manager. The contract to run the Royal Borough Leisure Centres had been awarded on performance of outcomes rather than service specifications. The WLC had an excellent mix of facilities and had recently received additional capital investment.
The Panel were informed that the total number of users across all leisure centres had increased, however partially because Furze Platt school had been added to the provision. That said usage was up and the number of complaints had decreased. He was aware of comments made on social media, as highlighted by Mrs Driver, but they could only count complaints made to the Council.
He was aware that Mrs Driver had made complaints to the WLC manager and members of staff and appropriate responses had been made. The Project Lead responsible for leisure centres also had an overview of the performance of all centres within the borough and often made unannounced visits to all centres. The WLC was also a popular centre having users coming from outside the borough. He was happy to consider the points raised and welcomed Panel Member visiting the centre prior to considering any further action.
The Chairman said that there were a number of issues to be looked at; the contractual obligations, the offer being made, those issues which were management obligations for the centre and any issues raised via the council’s complaints system. As a commissioning authority the Panel needed to be assured that contractual obligations were being monitored and met. The Panel would also wish to seek assurance that complaints made outside the Council’s complaints system (those directed directly to the WLC) were being addressed appropriately.
Cllr Cox said that the Panel had been presented with information from one side of the argument but would need to hear from WLC and also have their contractual obligations available for consideration. It was also important to look at what monitoring had taken place. It was proposed that the Panel’s April meeting be held at WLC and at that meeting the Panel could look at operational vs. management issues. The Panel needed to look at what Mrs Driver had presented and other complaints with what the WLC have to say in response to get a balanced view.
Cllr Stretton reported that she had previously raised concerns about the WLC and had been aware of issue back in 2015 when she was Lead Member. She was pleased that at last the issues were being looked at but felt Panel members should take un-announced visits to the centre rather than waiting for an announced visit in April 2019.
The Chairman said that he had asked for the WLC visit to be added to the Panel’s work programme due to concerns raised and that he had sked for any concerns from ward members. At the time of adding this to the work programme there had been no concerns presented to him from users.
Cllr Shelim informed that as a ward member and had raised an issue about the centre last year but this had been addressed by the WLC. There should be focus on the long term strategy as the centre was very busy and one off repairs on equipment due to usage was expected.
Cllr E Wilson said that he did not usually receive complaints about the WLC until Mrs Driver had sent her information. Any complaints he received were usually about car parking for the centre. He said the question for the Panel if they wished to undertake further investigation should be around the contract and not management issues. He recommended that Panel Members should visit other centres and not just the WLC to see if there were wider issues across the contract. The Panel needed to consider what they wished to achieve from any review and to consider their role to review the strategic direction. It was important to look at the performance of the current contract before any further contracts were awarded.
Cllr Sharpe said it was important to look at the contract and deliverables before any future decisions were made.
The Lead Member thanked Mrs Driver for addressing the Panel and requested that her complaints be forwarded to her. The Council were spending £36 million on the Braywick LC and thus it was important to consider any concerns about contractual performance. There had been significant investment in the WLC including improved changing rooms and new flumes.
The Chairman thanked those for attending and presenting their concerns and that the leisure centre would be added to the work programme.