Harrogate Hydro

Leisure facilities set to reopen and a step forward to transferring them to a new Authority Controlled Company


Leisure Facilities in the Harrogate District will reopen on the 25 July 2020 and changes to place Sports and Leisure Services under a Local Authority Controlled Company take a step forward.

Councillor Stanley Lumley, cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport, said:

I’m delighted the government has advised it is now safe for leisure facilities to open from 25 July.

But of course, customer safety comes first. We’re working hard on introducing new customer guidance for all of our facilities as well as staff training and cleaning procedures.

We’ll have more news in the coming days and weeks with what facilities will open and when.

Plans are also moving forward as the HBC, Full Cabinet (8 July 2020)voted on proposals to place Sports, Leisure and Tourism Services into a new Local Authority Controlled Company (LACC). The changes were approved and welcomed by the Cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport.

The local Lidems raised concerns at the meeting, but agreed to the changes, provided and a number of controls and mitigations were put in place.

Councillor Stanley Lumley, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport, said:

We haven’t taken this decision lightly. It has been the culmination of a lot of work exploring the benefits becoming a local authority controlled company has to offer.

I’m delighted that this, and our sport and leisure investment strategy, have been approved. They will not only offer nearly £300k worth of savings per year, but it also shows the level of investment we the local authority, not a private company, are providing to improve the health, fitness and wellbeing provision for residents across the district.

Councillor Pat Marsh said:
We all know that local authorities have been struggling to balance the books because of cuts by the Government – something that has been made considerably worse by the impact of Covid 19.
Harrogate isn’t the only place that is having to look at alternative ways to deliver valued services like leisure centres and swimming pools. Our Lib Dem Councillors are totally opposed to privatisation of leisure services.
If that is what the Conservatives were proposing to do we would not have touched it with a barge pole.
The Local Authority Controlled Company that Councillors voted for last week is exactly what is says on the tin. It is not a private company. It is wholly owned by the Council, and therefore by local taxpayers. All but one of the board members will be either Council Officers or Councillors. All major decisions will be taken by the Council.
When we were presented with the Conservatives’ proposals that the Council was to vote on, Liberal Democrat Councillors were not satisfied that sufficient protections were in place. We therefore demanded a raft of changes to the motion to seek assurances on things like staff conditions, affordable pricing and accountability. All of our Lib Dem amendments were accepted by the Conservatives with only minor changes.
We were therefore reassured that we could vote in favour of setting up the LACC so that leisure services can continue to be provided in our District.
But this is not the end of the story our Lib Dem team will work hard to ensure that their amendments are implemented and that high quality, affordable leisure facilities are delivered to the Residents of this District.

AMENDMENT from Full Council Meeting –  proposed by Councillor Pat Marsh and seconded by Councillor Philip Broadbank:-

Amend the recommendations as shown below:


(1) it be noted that the most appropriate form of company is that of a Company Limited by Guarantee with the Council as sole member;

(2) the impact of including the Turkish Baths, Little Explorers Day Nursery and three Community Centres in the review be noted and the scope of Leisure Services to be transferred as outlined in para 5.2 be approved;

(3) the Business Plan at Appendices 1a, 1b and 1c be approved and the anticipated improvement of c. £284k pa (potentially rising to £585k if investing in facilities as per the accompanying report at Minute 07/20) be noted, comprising:

Business Rates Relief of £222k pa
Improved financial performance of £130k pa
Benefits from efficient VAT management of £76k pa
Offset by additional costs of £144k pa
Surpluses to be invested back into leisure facilities and services
Full Council and the Local Authority Controlled Company to decide how to reinvest any surpluses and how to deal with any deficits.

and the mitigation of:

an additional £1.3 million of irrecoverable VAT through the transfer of the ‘new facility for Ripon’ project into the Company, and
the partial exemption cost to the Council of keeping the service in-house estimated at £302k per annum.
(4) the Company vision set out in para 5.3 and the working name for the LACC being ‘Brimhams Active’ be approved;

(5) the outcome of the public consultation at Appendix 2a be noted;

(6) the Equality Impact Assessment at Appendix 3 be noted;

(7) the formation of the Company Limited by Guarantee and the transfer of Leisure Services (as defined in para 5.2 of the report) into it with an effective operational target date of 1 August 2021 be approved;

(8) the proposed governance arrangements for the Company be approved and authority delegated to the Head of Legal and Governance to finalise the list of Reserved Matters and the Articles of Association and the Board composition and terms of appointment at Appendix 5;

(9) the Council appointments to the six Board positions set out at paragraph 5.8.2 be approved; The Company Board must be fully transparent and accountable, with major decisions being made by full Council;

(10) the implementation plan at Appendix 4 and the project governance as set out at Appendix 9 be approved;

(11) authority be delegated to the Director of Economy and Culture, in consultation with the Head of Legal and Governance, the Head of Finance, the Leader and Cabinet Member for Culture Tourism and Sport to commence the detailed implementation of the Company Limited by Guarantee.  This will involve (but is not limited to) an update on progress which will be presented at each Transformation Board and specifically to Cabinet in spring 2021, using the following actions:

Recruitment and appointment of a Managing Director with interviews and the decision on appointment being made by the six Council appointments to the Board detailed at 5.8.2

Recruitment and appointment of two other Executive Directors in line with the Job Descriptions and Terms of Appointment proposed by the Managing Director

Complete formation and registration of the Company in advance of the commencement of it employing the Managing Director
Ensure the development of a robust, detailed Business Plan by the Company. Prices and charges must be affordable with an introduction of concessionary rates to allow less well-off people to access the services

Development of a performance specification and details of contract management for Leisure Services Contract
Preparation and execution of the Leisure Services Contract between the Council and Company. Current services must be protected, including Starbeck Baths.   “Whilst realising that this council cannot bind the hands of a future council the Council’s intention and motivation in moving to the new model is maintenance and improvement of current services including all our current swimming provision.”

Preparation and execution of the Transfer Agreement between the Council and Company. This service to be brought back in-house if the company gets into financial trouble. “Realising that this council cannot bind the hands of a future council any changes to the future structure of the Local Authority Controlled Company, including if brought about by financial problems, must include the option to bring service provision back in house.”

Preparation and execution of the Back Office Services Agreement between the Council and Company including insurance arrangements
Enter into leases for all facilities with the Company on terms and conditions to be agreed by the delegated officers or appropriate occupation and management agreements
Execute novation agreements in relation to service/supply contracts currently in place in relation to the operation of leisure services

A final decision on all the above to be referred to full Council before implementation if any significant differences to the above.
(13) authority be delegated to the Director of Economy and Culture, the Head of Organisational Development and Improvement and the Head of Legal and Governance to:

Commence formal consultation with staff and Trade Unions

Finalise staff transfer arrangements and related human resources considerations including obtaining admitted body status for pension purposes for the Company. Terms and conditions for employees must be protected when transferred to the new Company. Employees taken on after August 2021 must have the same terms and conditions of employment and pension rights as others working for the company

(14) the scale in undertaking the transfer to the Company be recognised and the additional project resources to implement the transfer of £180k from the Invest to Save/Council Investment Reserve, as outlined in paragraph 5.8.4 be agreed; and

(15) the opportunities created by the Company and the accompanying report at Minute 07/20 for investment in developing facilities be recognised.

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