Agenda item

Leisure Operating Contract Annual Report

This report will provide members of the Housing and Wellbeing Committee with an update in respect of the Council’s Leisure Operating Contract over the past 18-months and will include a presentation from the Council’s Leisure Operator Freedom Leisure.


The Wellbeing Business Manager was invited to present the report.  He explained that the report provided members with an overview of Freedom Leisure’s trading and performance from April 2022 to September 2023, which had covered a period of rising energy costs and high inflation.  He advised that discussions were taking place with Wealden Leisure, trading as Freedom Leisure to discuss the optional extension of the Council’s Leisure Operating Contract 5 years, from 1 April 2027 to 31 March 2032.


The Wellbeing Business Manager then introduced those in attendance from Freedom Leisure who gave a detailed presentation to members.


 Matt Eden, Arun Area Manager provided an introduction to the Leisure Operating Annual Contract, explaining that Freedom Leisure was a ‘not for profit’ organisation.  He provided an update on the pressures experienced during this period of rising energy costs, high inflation and other pressures experienced by the leisure industry and was pleased to report that the financial situation was improving, which it was hoped provided some reassurance to the Committee.  He extended an invitation to the members of the Committee to visit the Leisure Centre to see it operating on a day by day basis.



Matt Wickham, Chief Operating Officer provided a presentation on the Leisure Operating Contract Annual Report April 2022 to September 2023 that covered the following topics

·     Area Insight

·     Throughput summary

·     Energy Saving Measures

·     Investments

·     Feedback

·     Incidents to Users Ratio

·     Finance Summary April 2022-March 2023

·     Finance Summary 2023 – September 2023

·     Team in Arun

·     Marketing

·     Social Media Coverage

·     Testimonials

·     Our Year in Numbers

Charlotte Simpson, Healthy Communities Manager provided a presentation on Healthy Communities Arun that covered the following topics:

·       What is Healthy Communities and what do we do?

·       Healthy Communities (For Families and Young People/Ageing Well/Affordability & Accessibility)

·       Investment

·       Healthy Communities in Pictures!

·       Healthy Communities Team

·       Testimonials

·       Case Study: Exercise Referral Classes

·       Case Study: healthy Walks in Arun



The Chair invited questions and comments from members: 

·        Responding to a question concerning the suspension of the Friday Night project because of anti-social behaviour,  it was advised that a number of lessons had been learned.  The Leisure Centre had been able to access a range of resources from other agencies who had given observations to assist them  in dealing with any further anti-social behaviour.  Going forward, a meeting was due to take place with the Council’s Wellbeing and Community Safety Manager to assist in making improvements to ensure the issue did not happen again.  A member asked if they could observe one of the sessions when the project reopened.

·        As regards to transport issues, discussions were taking place with the Council’s Wellbeing and Community Safety Manager on the provision of a bus service, including how it could be funded.    Any suggestions from the members of the Committee on the provision of transportation to encourage those not otherwise able to get to the Leisure Centre. 

·        It was explained that the Windmill Theare financial figures had not been included in the report, as they were commercially sensitive, and the request of the Windmill had not been provided to Freedom Leisure.  He  undertook to contact the Windmill to see if the information could be provided to the Committee.  A member commented that investment in improved facilities when the Windmill contract was renegotiated and any grants that may be available applied for.

·        A non-member of the committee was allowed to make comment and ask questions.  He raised the issue of maintenance at the Wave and broken equipment and the impression that gave to the public, and the difficulty of finding the cost to swim etc on the website.  It was acknowledged that there were improvements to be made.  However, in some instances there had been a delay due to difficulties in obtaining parts. 

·        With regards to capacity the aim was to achieve the pre-Covid pandemic figures, which the Arun Leisure Centre had already achieved after one year.  As regards to the viability and sustainability,  it was confirmed that Freedom leisure would continue to meet their contractual obligations, utility prices had reduced and the financial report for the previous six month was improving.

The Committee


1.   Noted the contents of the report and presentations provided by Arun District Councils Leisure Contractor Freedom Leisure, and

2.   Noted the pressures and work undertaken by Freedom Leisure to continue to mitigate against the rising energy costs.

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