Frequently Asked Questions The Highworth Recreation Centre Transfer
There are exciting plans for your local leisure centre and pool in Highworth thanks to a new partnership between the Centre Trustees and Halo Leisure. The Trustees of the Centre and Swindon Borough Council are transferring the operation of Highworth Recreation Centre to Halo Leisure Services Ltd (Halo). The partnership means the Board of Trustees will still own all its leisure buildings and facilities, and have a big say on how they are run and developed, especially when it comes to what’s on offer. But award winning social enterprise Halo Leisure will be responsible for managing and maintaining the leisure centre for the next 10 years - with a planned start date of 1 November 2016. We’ve put together these FAQs to give you an idea of what’s happening and what’s to come.
About the transfer
Why are the Trust and Swindon Borough Council looking to transfer the management of Highworth Recreation Centre to an external operator?
SBC cannot continue to deliver services in the same way as it has in the past due to the budget pressures it currently faces. SBC has an estimated £80m budget gap over the next four years due to reductions in funding, inflationary pressures and rising demand for services, particularly in adult social care. SBC’s Leisure and Culture Change Programme is looking at a whole range of options for making leisure and culture provision sustainable because it cannot continue to provide services as it currently does or commit to on-going investment.
The leisure change programme was developed to reduce the £1.4m annual cost of providing leisure and golf services and mitigate ongoing property maintenance liabilities whilst providing the facilities with the best chance of remaining open in the future.
In 2014, SBC transferred the operation of most of its leisure centres (excluding Highworth Recreation Centre) to Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) and the golf facilities to Twigmarket Ltd under long leases. The proposed transfer of the operation of Highworth Recreation Centre to Halo Leisure is the final stage of this process.
How was Halo selected?
The Trust undertook a marketing exercise to existing leisure centre operators and invited bids to take over the management of the facility. A detailed evaluation process has been undertaken to ensure that any selected operator has sufficient skills, experience and financial standing to take over the running of the Centre.
“This new way of working has taken a long time to develop” said Richard Williams, Chair of the Board at Highworth Recreation Centre. “Some time ago the Board approved a business case. This said the best way to create healthier and more active communities amongst the people of Highworth – something really important to the Board - would be to work with a partner organisation, a leisure specialist. Before a partner could be appointed there were many months of planning, interviewing and testing to be sure the right organisation was selected.“
Swindon Borough Council played a supporting role in the process by providing funding to support the work of the Trust and also providing officer time and expertise.
What consultation and engagement has taken place with users?
As part of the process to transfer the leisure centres and golf courses, SBC held an eight-week consultation with residents, leisure centre and golf course users in January and February 2014.
Significant media interest surrounded the consideration of the proposals by the Council’s Cabinet and Full Council in June and July 2014 respectively, where Councillors considered the responses to both the consultations and again residents and users were able to ask questions and make their views known.
Going forward, the Trust and Halo will be responsible for any consultation in respect of the facility.
Who are Halo Leisure Services Ltd and what experience do they have in operating leisure centres?
Halo Leisure is a registered charity and social enterprise running 19 sport and leisure centres and programmes supporting health and wellbeing throughout Herefordshire and Bridgend County Borough on behalf of the local authorities. In Shropshire, they manage Bridgnorth Endowed School’s Leisure Centre on behalf of the board of governors. They also share expertise with operators such as the Point4 at The Royal National College for the Blind and The Severn Centre in Highley, Shropshire.
For almost 15 years Halo Leisure has helped the local people to live a healthier and more active life by managing the leisure centres and swimming pools across the counties on behalf of the local councils. Halo is a social enterprise and registered charity. This means that they don’t have shareholders and any surplus money is put straight back into community leisure services and facilities. This helps to keep costs low and offer outstanding value for money so everyone can enjoy an exciting range of leisure opportunities including babies, juniors, teenagers, students, seniors, families, people with disabilities, people on means tested benefits and local talented athletes.
Flying the flag for Social Enterprises - They are very proud to hold Flagship Social Enterprise status, in recognition of its work to break down barriers to participation and open up leisure opportunities in local communities.
In gyms, swimming, group exercise classes, racket sports, indoor and outdoor team games, golf, personal training, spa and others they have expertise in managing a wide portfolio of activities with the aim of getting more people, more active, more often. They also have a team of experienced specialists supporting functions such as finance, operations, human resources, payroll, health and fitness, partnership and community engagement, marketing, sales and customer services.
When do you expect the transfer to take place?
All three parties are currently finalising contractual details relating to the transfer, which is planned to take place on 1st November 2016.
How will Halo Leisure take over the facility?
Halo will enter into a management agreement with the Trust to operate the centre. The Trust will then manage the contract. SBC will play no further operational or contractual role.
The partnership means the Board of Trustees will still own all its leisure buildings and facilities, and have a big say on how they are run and developed, especially when it comes to what’s on offer. But award winning social enterprise Halo Leisure will be responsible for managing and maintaining the leisure centre for the next 10 years - with a planned start date of 1 November 2016.
How long will Halo be operating the Centre?
The initial contract period is for 10 years with provision for future extensions.
How will local people be able to express their views about the service in the future?
Halo’s customer feedback programme has been recognised by Quest (UK Quality Scheme for Sport and Leisure) as a particular strength and example of good practice. Halo actively encourages
positive and negative feedback from customers through a monitored feedback programme called ‘tell!’.
If you have something to tell Halo - a comment about your experience, some praise or even a complaint - please visit their dedicated customer feedback page on the website - you’ll find it under the ‘contact us’ section. All complaints are investigated objectively and with maximum impartiality.
You can make your comments via facebook, website, over the phone and at the centre. Tell Halo comments are seen by everyone in Halo, from the cleaning teams to the chief executive. Not only that - all of their reviews are out there for everyone to read. You can find out what other customers have said about Halo too.
In addition Halo also carry out post-use Customer Satisfaction surveys by email to monitor the service they are providing.
What will happen to the current staff when Halo takes over?
Halo recognise the current team as a real asset and the staff will have a right to transfer to Halo under TUPE regulations. So rest assured you will still see your favourite face when you visit the centre.
Will the facilities be improved?
Swindon Borough Council is making £271k available for agreed maintenance works at the centre.
Halo is keen to improve the indoor sports hall and in this financial year will start a refurbishment project which will include new lighting, flooring and decor in the sport hall. Longer term Halo wants to develop its group exercise programme and grow the number of children on swimming and trampolining coaching lessons. Halo is also keen to investigate the possibility of expanding and developing the gym and fitness suite.
About the product
Will I still be able to use my current membership and ‘Leisure in Swindon’ card at Highworth Recreation Centre?
You will continue to enjoy discounted prices at the Centre until the period covered by your existing Leisure in Swindon card expires. Your existing membership card will be swapped for a Halo card 'free of charge' when you next visit the centre. Don't forget to give them your email address when you pick up your new card, so they can keep you informed of special offers and the latest developments at the Centre and also send you the monthly newsletter.
Leisure in Swindon Membership
Halo will issue you with their own branded card when you visit the Centre to continue your Membership. It is business as usual with your normal direct debit payment and all other terms and conditions remaining the same. For any questions, or enquiries relating to new membership options following 1st November, 2016, please enquire at Reception.
In order to ensure a smooth transition to Halo your details may need to be passed to them prior to 1st November to enable their systems to capture your information.
Will the opening times remain the same?
Halo has no current plans to amend any opening hours but all programming and timetables will be reviewed over time.
Will there be any changes to the programming of leisure activities?
There are currently no immediate plans to significantly change the offer. However, as with all organisations, all programming will continue to be subject to on-going review, to ensure that it continues to respond to the changing trends and demands from service users. Plans to refurbish the indoor sports hall, grow the number of children on the swimming and trampolining coaching courses and development of the group exercise timetable will be positive changes aimed at getting the local community more active.
About the prices
What will the impact be on fees and charges?
As a social enterprise and registered charity, Halo believe that price should never be a barrier to taking part. It will maintain current pricing structure through 2016/17 and plan to introduce membership packages special offers for new and existing members. It will review demand locally before considering if any changes in the future are needed.
Will I have to pay to park at the facility?
There are currently no plans to introduce parking charges at the site and the car park still remains in the ownership of Highworth Town Council.
About the bookings
Will I still be able to book facilities and fitness classes online?
You'll be able to book online with Halo once you have registered for their online services.
Registration is easy and only takes a minute. From 31st October visit the Halo website at haloleisure.org.uk by pressing the 'book' button on the home page, then select Register. If you are already a member, choose the "Register my membership for online services" option.
Online and counter bookings will be closed at midnight on 31st October while we check that we've got all the existing bookings in place. We're aiming to re-open for bookings at 2pm on 1st November.
I belong to a club that uses Highworth Recreation Centre on a regular basis. Will our bookings continue?
Halo is keen to support resident clubs and work with them to increase participation. Following the transfer date, Halo plans to meet with all local clubs and associations that use the centre as part of understanding how Highworth operates. There are currently no plans to discontinue any club use.
I have made a booking for a date after 1st November, 2016. Will my event still take place?
We anticipate at this stage that there will be no alteration to any booking, including prices that have been agreed prior to the transfer of the facility to Halo.