As part of its drive to get the borough in shape, Barking and Dagenham Council has tasked its newly appointed leisure provider with the mission to bring in two million visitors a year to the borough’s leisure centres and athletics stadium.
The challenge to Sports Leisure Management Ltd (SLM) – which was today named as ‘preferred bidder’ to manage the Abbey and Becontree Heath Leisure Centres and the Jim Peters Stadium – is to get more residents active and help the council’s healthy weight agenda in the borough that has one of the worst health rates in the UK.
Councillor Maureen Worby, Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health Integration at Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “We have one of the worst records on obesity and life expectancy in Britain and, while getting more people into our leisure centres is not the sole solution, it’s one of the ways to a healthier, fitter borough.
“It’s a key reason why we’re welcoming Sports and Leisure Management Ltd to Barking and Dagenham. SLM will not only maintain the borough’s reputation of having some of the best leisure centres in the country but will also massively increase opportunities for residents to get fit, to stay healthy and have fun!”
David Bibby, Managing Director of SLM, said: “It is a really exciting time for sports and leisure in the borough, and we are delighted to have been chosen to use our extensive skills and experience to get more people active.
“We are very much looking forward to working with the council to improve the health and wellbeing of the borough by offering an extensive range of sports and activity opportunities. By investing in the fantastic facilities and delivering exceptional services, we will support the council’s healthy weight agenda and help them achieve their goals.”
SLM, which trades as Everyone Active, is one of the country’s leading leisure centre operators, managing 147 sites in partnership with 44 local authorities. It will take on a 10-year contract, during which time it is committed to a 35% increase in activity levels in the centres, rising to a total of 2 million visits to the centres per year.
The appointment follows an exhaustive nine-month tender process which attracted some of the best-known leisure operators in the country.
In making the appointment, the council aims to increase income and boost activity levels among residents and to ensure that the facilities are maintained to the highest possible standards, protecting the council’s recent multi-million pound investment.
Under the plan, the council will continue to own the leisure centres and the stadium but the new operator will run them. Legal contracts will ensure that the activities remain affordable to local residents and that key existing activities and concessions continue. There are also safeguards for existing clubs and groups that use the centres. SLM will be incentivised to develop new and exciting ways for people to get active.
Existing staff will become direct employees of the new operator and their terms and conditions will be protected by the Transfer of Undertakings, Protection of Employment legislation, commonly known as TUPE.